Bird flu scare forces dietary change for zoo inmates

As the spectre of avian influenza looms large, the inmates of Nehru Zoological Park may soon be facing a dietary change. Following the outbreak of the H5N1 virus in Karnataka, worried zoo authorities are planning to put in place dietary restrictions for the animals. These include an exclusion of chicken and eggs, which authorities said are fed to most animals as breakfast.

Chicken and eggs are also part of a special diet given to pregnant and sick animals. “More than a kilogram of chicken or a dish prepared with chicken is given to pregnant and sick animals in the zoo,” an official said.

Zoo curator Shivani Dogra told The Hindu that the management has decided to stop procurement of poultry meat from the next week.

“We get about 30 kg of chicken and over 100 eggs daily to feed animals, mostly carnivores such as lions, tigers and panthers. This will be stopped in the next couple of days, following outbreak of bird flu in Karnataka, an airborne disease” she said.

She said that the staff has been vigilant and all possible steps would be taken to ensure safety of animals and birds in the zoo.

Ms. Dogra said that so far, there had been no cases of avian flu or unnatural bird deaths in the zoo. However, as a precautionary measure, poultry meat would be restricted and replaced with additional quantities of beef.

Official said that as a prophylactic measure, all the birds would be given medication and veterinarians had been asked to monitor the health of birds at regular intervals.

The zoo curator said that during the alert period, the zoo would not take in any rescued birds and were keeping a vigil on migratory birds. “Bird flu is caused mostly due to migratory birds. So, we are focusing on them,” she said, adding that cleaning and disinfection of the zoo premises was being carried out regularly.

Officials said that there were about 1,500 animals in the zoo, of which over 500 were birds, so no risks were being taken.

Last year too, the authorities had twice suspended procurement of chicken for a month on each occasion due to the same reason.

Source: Health – Google News

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