All felines in Ranchi Zoo put to COVID-19 test post tiger Shiva’s death

By: |
June 05, 2021 5:05 PM

Special precautions are being taken for big cats, the officials said, adding footwas with a solution of potassium permanganate is required for the keepers before entering the cages.

The park is situated on both the sides of National Highway 33, at about 20 kms from the Ranchi. (Representational image)

All 21 felines in Jharkhand’s Ranchi Zoo – right from 1.3 years tiger cubs to 14-year-old Mallik- are undergoing COVID-19 test to rule out chances of infection in the wake of death of tiger Shiva down with fever for three days, an official said Saturday.

The decision for mandatory COVID test of felines was taken amid coronavirus scare though 10-year old tiger Shiva, who died Thursday night tested negative in RAT but results of RT-PCR are awaited.

Shiva, suffering from high fever since Tuesday, had left eating and had barely touched the chicken soup it was offered during the sickness before it succumbed to death.

“We have 21 lions,tigers and leopards left at Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park, Ormanjhi, Ranchi after Shiva died on Thursday night. To rule out even the remote possibility of COVID-19 virus among felines, we have deciced that all will undergo mandatory coronavirus tests.

“So far swabs could be taken of 11 animals as it is a bit difficult to obtain their swabs given their ferocious nature,” Zoo Director YK Das told PTI.

Zoo at present houses nine tigers between the age of 1.3 years to 14 years. There are three tiger cub siblings of 1.3 years age.

In addition, the animals going for RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test include four lions – two asiatic and two hybrid, Zoo officials said.

Also, there are eight leopards including one black panther that are undergoing COVID-19 tests.

The Zoo director said that initially 21 felines of Schedule 1 category protected animals under Wildlife Act are undergoing COVID-19 tests and if need be more animals will be included in the list. He said that so far coronavirus cases have been detected only in categories like lions and tigers but as a precautionary measure, leopards have also been included. The death of tiger Shiva in state capital Ranchi’s Zoo has created fear.

On June 4 a lioness ‘Neela’ in Tamil Nadu died of coronavirus while nine others in the pride tested positive for the infection at Arignar Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur. In May, eight Asiatic 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 the Etawah Safari Park in Uttar Pradesh had tested positive while another was suspected to have contracted the contagion.

At Ranchi, Shiva’s swab for RT-PCR has bee despatched to IVRI (Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly) to assess if it was infected with coronavirus, officials said.

The big cat’s blood test and examination by veterinary experts suggested liver and kidney infection while a four- member veterinary team conducted its post-mortem. The feline was brought to Ranchi from Bengalurus Bannerghatta Biological Park in November 2014, officials said.

The Director said that the zoo has been closed but as a precuationery measure all the staff including keepers have undergone COVID-19 tests in addition to all precautions for sanitisation etc. A high alert was sounded here after eight Asiatic lions at Hyderabad Park were found infected for the virus.

Officials said after COVID-19 outbreak sanitisation of the park and enclosures are carried out on a daily basis while staff and animal keepers use protective gears in addition to fogging, sanitisation and lime spraying.

Special precautions are being taken for big cats, the officials said, adding footwas with a solution of potassium permanganate is required for the keepers before entering the 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, having 104 hectare of area of mildly undulating topography with natural dry deciduous Sal forests & water bodies in and around it.

The park is situated on both the sides of National Highway 33, at about 20 kms from the Ranchi. The zoo houses about 1500 wild animals and birds representing 83 different species.

The major breeding species are Himalyan black bear, sloth bear, leopard cat, Royal Bengal tiger, jungle cat, jackal, fox, stripped hyena, spotted deer, barking deer, sambar, nilgai, black buck, Indian gour, hippopotamus, Gangetic gharial, emu, ostrich, Indian peafowl and different species of pheasants. It has an annual footfall of about 8 lakh.

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