GUWAHATI: Minister for Environment and Forest, Parimal Suklabaidya enquired about health condition of zoo keepers and animals in the Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden here on Friday.
Taking a round of the different enclosures accompanied by PCCF, (Wildlife), Dr.Amit Sahai and Divisional Forest Officer, Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden, Tejas Mariswamy, Minister Suklabaidya enquired about the health condition of the animals. “As of now, not a single animal is being affected by the disease and all the animals and birds are healthy and in good spirits,” he quipped.
The Minister took stock of the health condition and well being of the zoo keepers and thanked them for taking care of the animals during the pandemic times. 11 zoo keepers have been afflicted with COVID-19 positive out of which one is presently COVID positive and in isolation.
The state zoo is being closed to visitors since April 28 this year due to COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Later talking to media persons, Minister Suklabaidya said that the zoo is following SoPs to prevent spread of COVID-19 infection in the zoo, including sanitisation of foodstuff.
Suklabaidya said fresh grass is being grown for the herbivores in the hydroponic system within a span of seven days. Rhinos, deer, Nilgai and black bucks are being fed daily with fresh grass grown in the hydroponic enclosure.
He also disclosed the good news that two black panther cubs were born on Friday with another two cubs born one and a half months ago during the pandemic times.
Suklabaidya further revealed that four zebras from Israel would be brought to the zoo in exchange of two black panthers following an MoU with Reliance. Besides, four white winged wood ducks (deo hah) will arrive from Czech Republic The enclosures for the new inmates are almost ready.
The Minister said though the cash registers have not been tinkling due to no visitors since April, there are no immediate plans to open the zoo in the greater interest of the animals as well as zoo keepers. “There are no immediate plans to open the zoo till the COVID situation returns to normal,” he added.
Meanwhile, DFO, Mariswamy said all persons authorised to enter state zoo premises have to obtain prior permission from him and their body temperature is being checked at the main gate through thermal gun.
The ration supplier is being asked to submit COVID-19 test report of the persons engaged in supply of foodstuff. “Necessary precautions, including drenching the materials procured with hot water, spraying with virkon etc are strictly followed, ” he added.
As per the SoP, daily spraying with virkon is carried out in and around the animal enclosures. Vehicles entering the zoo are also sanitised with virkon spray at the entrance.
“The caretakers are being monitored for their body temperature before they undertake animal keeping.
Tigers are being observed for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 such as respiratory signs of nasal discharge, coughing and laboured breathing through direct observation to the extent possible for visible symptoms,” the DFO said.