The National Zoological Park has approached a premier veterinary research institute after suspecting symptoms of anthrax during the autopsy of an Indian Rhino, which died at the zoo on Saturday.
The four-year-old male rhinoceros, listed as an endangered species, was found dead on Saturday morning at its enclosure at the park, popular as Delhi zoo.
Samples of blood, body parts and even the fodder that the animal ate the previous night have been sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh). "However, nothing is confirmed yet. The symptoms made the panel of veterinarians suspect anthrax and hence we have sent the samples to Bareilly for confirmation," said zoo director Amitabh Agnihotri.
BS Bonal, member secretary of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), a regulatory body for all zoos, said the Bareilly institution is the nodal agency for all zoos across India.
Generally, large animals are buried after death. "But due to the anthrax suspicion, the body of this deceased animal, fondly called Junior Raja by the zoo keepers, was burnt in the incinerator and the ash was buried," sources said.
After Junior Raja's death, there are only two female rhinos at the zoo now.
In the meantime, as many as 22 zoo personnel, who had handled the deceased rhino, were given prophylactic treatment at the RML Hospital as a precautionary step. "The rhino enclosure, too, has been fully disinfected and we have taken precautionary measures for all staff that handled the animal," Riaz Khan, zoo's curator (education) said.
The deceased rhino was neither ill nor had any injury. There was no report of any sickness and on Friday evening, the rhino had normal food intake.