Kerala

‘Zoo has to be ready for worse situation’

Stringent disinfection protocols will have to be observed

The curb on visitors to the city zoo till March 31 as part of steps put in place to contain the COVID-19 pandemic has been welcomed by the zoo authorities, but apprehensions remain about the way forward if and when community spread happens.

Zoo officials say that visitors or no visitors, employees responsible for the food, care, and treatment of animals had to report for work. Zoo office and technical staff could stay away for a few days if the situation took a turn for the worse, but not animal keepers and some other employees.

Officials said food for the animals came from outside in vehicles and so did the keepers who fed the animals, took care of them, and kept an eye on their health. But for the zoo director and superintendent, none of the employees lived on the premises.

For many posts, including that of the zoo doctor, there was only one appointee.

All these led to an apprehension about what would happen in a case of a complete lockdown.

Bar on visitors helps

The bar on visitors had helped in this stage. Moreover, the staff had been provided with soaps, sanitisers, and masks and told to take every precaution against the disease.

Those coming into contact with animals had been supplied with handwash and gloves.

While there was nothing to do but continue their work at this stage, there was need to plan ahead in the event of a community spread of the disease.

The zoo will have to think about stricter measures then, officials say, adding that stringent disinfection protocols would need to be observed, and decisions such as discontinuing the ongoing constructions and keeping a register of those entering the zoo premises would have to be taken.

There is need to prepare for the worst, the authorities say.

As the virus is new, little is known about it, they say. There have been reports of human to animal transmission. Zoo veterinarian Jacob Alexander says pandemics have been reported in animals, but once they acquire herd immunity, the virus dies.

For the moment, disinfectants are being applied in animal enclosures as a precaution. The animals are already being given supplements, he says.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 1:43:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/zoo-has-to-be-ready-for-worse-situation/article31131247.ece

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