Reacting to the news of bird flu-related deaths in the zoological gardens of Delhi and Gwalior, Alipore zoo officials have listed a slew of measures to be immediately undertaken to stop any possible outbreak of the disease.
Veterinarians and bird specialists will begin random screening of the species in the zoo’s aviaries on Saturday to detect if any inmate has been affected by any form of avian flu virus. Earlier, the Central Zoo Authority of India (CZAI) had confirmed that some of the recent bird deaths in Delhi and Gwalior zoos were caused by the deadly bird flu H5N1 virus.
The CZAI is the regulatory body for all zoos across the country. Nine birds died of the H5N1 virus in the Delhi zoo, prompting it to shut down temporarily. Only employees with safety masks on are being allowed inside.
“We have received an alert from the CZAI asking us to closely monitor the birds in our aviaries. We are in touch with the state’s animal resources development department too,” the director of Alipore zoo AK Samanta said, adding that the department will send a team of veterinary doctors to the zoo to collect blood samples and bird droppings from the cages to test them for the virus.
“There is no report of any death till now in the zoos of Kolkata as well as Darjeeling. There is no cause for panic but, at the same time, the authorities have been asked to maintain the highest level of vigil. If needed, a zoo should be temporarily shut down so that it can be quarantined and sanitized,” DN Singh, the member-secretary of CZAI, told HT.
The CZAI alert comes in the backdrop of the approaching winter and authorities of all zoos in general have been asked to closely watch the health of all birds in their facilities, including the vast number of migratory birds that come to this country in winter. Employees maintaining bird cages have been asked to wear masks and gloves mandatorily while collecting carcasses of birds which, in turn, must be sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal.
Incidentally, the state forest department has alerted its employees in the districts, national parks and sanctuaries also to remain on alert and immediately report every bird death. RP Saini, additional principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), said, “These parks and sanctuaries include places where birds congregate in large numbers, like the Santragachi Jheel in Howrah.”