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Coronavirus | Zoos closed in Himachal, Punjab, alert sounded

The zoos and wildlife sanctuaries have been closed to visitors to avoid external contact and an alert has been sounded to keep a vigil on animals. File Photo.  

All zoos and wildlife sanctuaries in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab have been closed as a precautionary measure after eight Asiatic lions at a Hyderabad Zoo were recently tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19).

The zoos and wildlife sanctuaries have been closed to visitors to avoid external contact and an alert has been sounded to keep a vigil on animals.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) Archana Sharma told The Hindu on Friday that the department has decided to shut the zoos and aviaries for visitors across the State. The key zoos and aviaries include Himalayan Nature Park at Kufri and Himalayan Bird Park in Shimla besides Dhauladhar Nature Park at Gopalpur in district Kangra.

“Central Zoo Authority had left it on the discretion of the state to take a decision surrounding closures of the zoos. We have now decided to close all the zoos. We had put all our zoos on high alert and are following guidelines and advisories of Central Zoo Authority (CZA) on precautions to be undertaken by zoos in the light of cases of infection. Monitoring of animals is being done and safety protocols for animal keepers etc. have also been put in place,” she said.

Eight Asiatic lions at Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus, earlier this week. A Union Environment Ministry statement had stated that analyses of the samples had revealed that the infection was not caused by any variant of concern. It also added that based on experience with zoo animals elsewhere in the world that have experienced SARS-COV2 infections last year, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further.

Punjab’s Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Basanta Raj Kumar said all the zoos across the State have been closed till May 31.

“We have closed the zoos and sanctuaries till May 31. The decision has been taken a precautionary measure. We are closely monitoring and observing the animals. After May 31 we will again assess the situation and accordingly a decision would be taken,” he said.

The key zoos in Punjab include the one in Chhatbir besides there are mini zoos in Patiala, Bathinda and Ludhiana. Apart from this there are 12 wildlife sanctuaries across the State.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 3:51:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-zoos-closed-in-himachal-punjab-alert-sounded/article34507007.ece

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