UP zoos take steps to protect animals in corona times

Lucknow/Kanpur, April 24 (IANS) After seven big cats at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for coronavirus, the Lucknow and Kanpur zoo authorities have stepped up measures to protect big cats and other animals from the virus.

The Kanpur zoo, which is home to nine tigers, five lions and more than 20 leopards, five jungle cats and one leopard cat, has drastically reduced human contact with the animals.

Senior zoo veterinary doctor R. K. Singh said, “We have already taken all precautions to save animals from coronavirus. We have reduced human contact to keep the animals safe. We are also keeping watch on the animals with CCTV cameras. Only in case of an emergency, we go close to lions, tigers and leopards.”

All the keepers have been instructed to maintain minimal contact with the animals in both the zoos and the keepers have also been provided protective gear.

The number of staff visiting the zoo on official duty has also been reduced to minimise the risk of man-to-man and man-animal contact. In fact, both the zoos are now working at around 50 per cent of the staff strength.

The zoos have set up isolation cages in case an animal shows any symptom of a contagious disease.

The zoo official said, “At the entry gate of the zoo, the staff is sanitised and their vehicles are also subjected to mist sanitisation. The cages — not animals — are sprayed with disinfectants too.”

All the big cats are being given immuno-modulators in order to improve their immunity, the zoo official said.

Apart from the big cats, the zoo vets and staff are also taking extra care of other wild animals such as rhino, hippo, zebra and deer.

Uttar Pradesh has two main zoos in Lucknow and Kanpur while Agra has a bear rescue facility and Varanasi and Unnao (Nawabganj) have deer parks.