According to zoo authorities, there are over 200 aquatic and exotic birds at Byculla zoo. (HT Photo)
According to zoo authorities, there are over 200 aquatic and exotic birds at Byculla zoo. (HT Photo)

Bird flu threat in Mumbai: Byculla zoo on high alert for its 200-plus aquatic, exotic birds

Following confirmed reports of bird flu infections in the city and state, authorities at Veer Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan And Zoo (Byculla zoo) have been put on high alert to ensure none of the birds inside the premises get infected
By Mehul R Thakkar, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 12, 2021 12:25 AM IST

Following confirmed reports of bird flu infections in the city and state, authorities at Veer Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan And Zoo (Byculla zoo) have been put on high alert to ensure none of the birds inside the premises get infected.

According to zoo authorities, there are over 200 aquatic and exotic birds inside the zoo, and amid the outbreak of bird flu, authorities have started ensuring increased hygiene monitoring while serving food and the general atmosphere in which the birds are kept.

“In the case of Byculla zoo, we do not have a scenario where there is mixing or mingling of exotic and aquatic birds with migratory birds, and hence, the chances of infection are less. However, we have to be on alert due to which we have increased our surveillance,” said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, director of Byculla zoo.

“We would have had to worry of infection spreading if say we had ponds at which the zoo birds and migratory birds drank water. However, at Byculla zoo, our over 200 birds are caged,” he added.

According to zoo authorities, they have increased surveillance by ensuring the staffers wash their hands before serving the birds’ food or medicines and keeping general hygiene at its maximum level to ensure zero chance of the zoo’s birds getting infected.

Byculla zoo authorities said that as of Monday, there are no plans to conduct screening of the exotic and aquatic birds at the zoo. “There are no plans to screen any birds yet. But if such guidelines are issued, we will act accordingly,” said Dr Tripathi.

Byculla zoo has been shut since March 2020 owing to the outbreak of Covid-19 and there has been no announcement regarding its reopening.

On Sunday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had reported complaints of 11 dead birds in Chembur. Of the 11 birds, samples of two were sent by the state’s animal husbandry department for testing on Sunday. On Monday, it was learnt that the two birds had tested positive for bird flu.

Before this, 13 birds were reported dead in Thane.

On Monday, the district authorities in Parbhani had also confirmed that 800 chickens in a village died due to bird flu.

According to BMC officials, the state government is expected to issue directives in the form of measures to be taken in Mumbai when it comes to poultry retailers and shops in the city.

Ajit Narawade, assistant municipal commissioner of M-East ward that covers Chembur, said, “We have not got any directions in regards to poultry retailers and shops in the city, but at the ward level we will carry out inspections after receiving instructions from the commissioner and state government.”

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