The National Zoological Park, which has been shut down temporarily amid a bird flu scare, today reported fresh pelican deaths.
“A couple of pelicans were found dead at their enclosure this morning. We are examining the dead ones,” an official of the zoo’s Veterinary Department told PTI.
The official refused to give the exact number of dead pelicans as he claimed the inspection was still going on.
The zoo was yesterday shut down for three days after nine water birds, including painted storks, ducks and pelicans died of H5 Avian influenza at its premises from October 14 to 17.
Two deaths were reported on October 14, while six others were found dead on October 15. One more water bird died on October 17.
Meanwhile, a team of Central Zoo Authority is at present inspecting all the enclosures at the zoo.
“The enclosures of painted storks and pelicans are nearby. So, there is a chance of transfusion of infection. We will have a definite answer once the inspection is over,” a member of the CZA team said.
Zoo Curator Riyaz Khan said all necessary measures are being taken to sanitise the premises. He said the zoo officials will soon hold a meeting regarding the issue.
The zoo had earlier this year reported the death of around 46 spotted deers. It also lost its sole King Cobra recently.
The incidents had raised fingers at the management and the lack of hygiene at the enclosures.
A zoo source claimed that some of the enclosures had contaminated water due to a sewage leak some time ago. There were also reports of zoo staffers not using the right paraphernalia, like gloves and masks while handling animals.
Dr Panneerselvam, Delhi zoo’s former veterinary officer, said the chances of the animals being born at the zoo contracting bird flu were “minimal”.
“The water birds, pelicans and ducks born here can rarely contract the disease as proper protection is given to them. But the migratory birds are prone to contracting H5 Avian influenza and might infect the others. For instance, the migratory painted storks come to Delhi zoo only for breeding,” he said.
The National Zoological Park, one of the largest in India, gets about 2.2 million visitors annually. The zoo has about 1,400 animals, reptiles and birds belonging to 130 species.