Guwahati: Assam forest minister visits State Zoo to take stock of situation


GUWAHATI: Assam Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya on Friday visited the Assam State Zoo and Botanical Garden to review the health of animals and their keepers during the ongoing second wave of the pandemic.

Till now not a single animal has been affected by the virus though 11 zookeepers have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, the minister told reporters at the Zoo.

“All the animals and birds are in good health. I thank the zookeepers for taking care of the animals during the pandemic,” Suklabaidya said.

The zoo is following Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), including sanitisation of areas around the enclosures, monitoring of the body temperature of the zookeepers, to prevent the spread of the infection. The state zoo has remain closed to visitors since April 28 this year due to the pandemic.

Though there have been no earnings from the zoo since April, there are no immediate plans to open it for the safety of the animals as well as zookeepers, the minister said.

“There are no plans to open the zoo till the COVID situation becomes normal,” he added.

The minister said two black panther cubs were born on Friday while two other cubs were born one and a half months ago during the ongoing pandemic. Four zebras from Israel would be brought to the zoo in exchange for two black panthers.

Besides, four white-winged wood ducks will arrive from Czech Republic and the enclosures for keeping the new inmates are almost ready. Assam State Zoo Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Tejad Mariswamy said all persons authorised to enter the state zoo premises will have to obtain prior permission from him and their body temperature will be checked at the main gate. The ration supplier has been asked to submit a COVID-19 test report of people engaged in the food supply.

As per the SoP, disinfectant is sprayed around the animal enclosures, and vehicles entering the zoo are sanitised at the entrance, he said.

“Tigers are being observed for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 such as nasal discharge, cough, and laboured breathing through direct observation,” the DFO added. (PTI)