The 21 felines at Ranchi Zoo in Jharkhand – from 1.3-year-old tiger cubs to 14-year-old Mallik – undergo COVID-19 test to rule out infection risks following the death of tiger Shiva with fever for three days, an official said on Saturday.
The decision to obligate feline COVID testing was taken amid fear of the coronavirus although 10-year-old tiger Shiva, who died Thursday evening, tested negative for RAT but RT-PCR results are pending.
Shiva, suffering from a high fever since Tuesday, had stopped eating and barely touched the chicken soup given to him during the illness before succumbing to death.
âWe have 21 lions, tigers and leopards left at Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park, Ormanjhi, Ranchi after Shiva died on Thursday evening. To rule out even the remote possibility of the COVID-19 virus in felines, we’ve decided that all will undergo mandatory coronavirus testing.
âSo far, swabs have been collected from 11 animals because it is a bit difficult to get their swabs given their fierce nature,â zoo director YK Das told PTI.
The zoo is currently home to nine tigers ranging in age from 1.3 to 14 years old. There are three 1.3-year-old tiger siblings.
In addition, animals undergoing the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test include four lions – two Asians and two hybrids, zoo officials said.
In addition, eight leopards, including a black panther, are being tested for COVID-19.
The zoo director said that initially 21 felines of animals protected in Schedule 1 category under the Wildlife Act are undergoing COVID-19 testing and, if necessary, more animals will be included. in the list. He said that so far cases of the coronavirus have only been detected in categories such as lions and tigers, but as a precaution, leopards have also been included. The death of tiger Shiva in the zoo in Ranchi, the state capital, created fear.
On June 4, a lioness ‘Neela’ in Tamil Nadu died of the coronavirus while nine other members of the pride tested positive for infection at Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur. In May, eight Asian lions at a zoo in Hyderabad tested positive for COVID-19, making it the first such case in the country.
Days after reports of the first such case emerged in Hyderabad, a lion at Etawah Safari Park in Uttar Pradesh tested positive while another was suspected of having contracted the contagion.
In Ranchi, Shiva’s swab for RT-PCR was sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly (IVRI) to assess whether he was infected with coronavirus, officials said.
The big cat’s blood test and examination by veterinary experts suggested infection of the liver and kidneys while a four-member veterinary team performed its autopsy. The feline was brought to Ranchi from the Bengalurus Bannerghatta Biological Park in November 2014, officials said.
The director said the zoo has been closed, but as a precaution all staff, including wardens, have undergone COVID-19 testing in addition to all disinfection precautions etc. A high alert was raised here after eight Asian lions in Hyderabad park were found infected. for the virus.
Officials said that after the COVID-19 outbreak, disinfection of the park and enclosures is carried out daily while staff and animal keepers use protective equipment in addition to misting, disinfecting and lime spray.
Special care is taken for big cats, officials said, adding that feet with potassium permanganate solution are needed for keepers before entering cages. Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park, Ranchi, popularly known as Bhagwan Birsa Zoo, Ranchi claims to be one of the most beautiful and progressive zoos in India, covering an area of ââ104 hectares with a gently rolling topography. with natural dry deciduous forests and water bodies in and around it.
The park is located on both sides of national road 33, approximately 20 km from the Ranchi. The zoo is home to around 1,500 wild animals and birds representing 83 different species.
The main breeding species are the Himalayan black bear, sloth bear, leopard cat, royal Bengal tiger, jungle cat, jackal, fox, striped hyena, spotted deer, barking deer, sambar, nilgai, black goat, Indian gour, hippopotamus, gangetic gharial, emu, ostrich, Indian peacock and various species of pheasants. It has an annual attendance of around 8 lakh.