Nagpur: In view of the spread of coronavirus infection among eight Asiatic lions in Hyderabad zoo, the managements of Maharajbag Zoo and Balasaheb Thackeray Gorewada International Zoo of Nagpur swung into action to prevent the virus among wild animals in the city. As per the guidelines of Central Zoo Authority (CZA), both zoo managements have started taking steps. “We are going to conduct RT-PCR test of all our 23 employees who are working closely with the animals in the zoo. The procedure will be carried out within a few days,” said Dr Sunil Bawaskar, Office In-charge, Maharajbag zoo. Maharajbag zoo is already closed for visitors till the lockdown is imposed.
Only the animal keepers and other employees are allowed inside the zoo for maintenance of the premises and the animals. “CZA has advised us to re-visit the guidelines which was issued earlier and we are following it properly from the beginning,” said Bawaskar. The guidelines advised managements to train their staff in the safe handling and wearing of protective gears while working with animals inside the zoo. It also stated that two-meter social distancing must be maintained by all the staffers, and close contacts with all the above-mentioned animals must be avoided. Similarly, Balasaheb Thackeray Gorewada International Zoo management is also taking steps as per the issued guidelines. “We stopped the tourist activities in the zoo on the very first day when the district administration imposed lockdown in city. No outsiders are allowed inside the zoo till then,” Pramod Panchbhai, Divisional Manager of the zoo. “We have not yet planned to conduct RT-PCR test of our staff as per the issued guidelines but we are taking measures to avoid COVID-19 infection among our staff.
The animal keepers are wearing face masks, hand gloves, PPE kits while handling animals inside the zoo. No one will allow without full protection inside the animal enclosures,” said Panchbhai. He said, “Performing swab test of animals inside the zoo is a time consuming task and also hectic for the animals. We will take the decision after discussion with our veterinarians in this regard. We are likely to conduct swab test only if we observe any symptoms among animals.” CZA has also advised all zoo managements to take appropriate step to prevent the spread of coronavirus among animals and also take proper decision by their own in this regard.