Death of two sloth bears worries Nandankanan authorities

Samples have been sent for testing; remaining bears are being housed in separate cells.

September 18, 2020 07:57 pm | Updated 08:02 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR:

Authorities of the Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) are concerned over the back-to-back deaths of two sloth bears at the park.

A total of three bears have died in the Nandankanan Zoo since August 30. One of them was a Himalayan black bear. The average lifespan of a Himalayan black bear is estimated to be 30 years. The bear that died at Nandankanan was already 28 years old and the death was said to be age-related. But the deaths of two sloth bears is said to be a cause for worry.

“On Wednesday, a male sloth bear named Debasish, which was rescued in 2013, died. It was only seven years old. It probably died due to irreversible neurological disorders,” said NZP Deputy Director B. P. Acharya in Bhubaneswar.

On Thursday, a female sloth bear called Aarti died with similar symptoms at the NZP. Sources said multiple haemorrhages were detected in both bears.

After the death of the three bears, NZP is left with 14 bears. Suspecting some kind of viral infection, the authorities have kept the bears in separate cells. Blood samples have been sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, to assess the cause of death. The zoo authorities are also trying to get in touch with national experts on sloth bears to prevent further deaths.

In 2019, four out of the eight elephants in the park died within a span of one month due to Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV). When infected with EEHV, the platelet count of elephants drops considerably and leads to internal bleeding with little outward manifestation.

The NZP is one of the leading zoos of India. It recorded a pre- coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) footfall of around 30 to 35 lakh visitors every year, and earned about ₹15 crore annually.

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