Coronavirus: Zoos, sanctuaries on high alert after tiger tests positive in New York zoo

Coronavirus: Zoos, sanctuaries on high alert after tiger tests positive in New York zoo
A worker sanitises a lion’s cage at Ahmedabad Zoo on Monday. (Express photo by Javed Raja)

National parks, sanctuaries and zoos across India have been put on high alert after US authorities on Sunday confirmed that a tiger housed in New York’s Bronx Zoo had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and the National Tiger Conservation Authority Monday issued advisories and directives to zoos and national parks across the country.

Zoos have been asked to keep constant vigil for any “abnormal behaviour or symptoms”, to not allow any handler near animals without safety gear, and to maintain minimum contact while feeding the animals, as per the CZA directive. Sick animals are to be quarantined and fortnightly samples of suspected cases sent to designated animal health institutes for COVID-19 tests.

“I have spoken to the Bronx Zoo Authority and we have come to understand that the virus was passed on to the tiger by a zookeeper… This can happen with us as well… So our main intervention is to cut out human animal interaction as much as possible,’’ said CZA Member Secretary S P Yadav.

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