NEW DELHI: With the bird flu scare hitting four states, precautions have been put into place at the Delhi zoo. Disinfectants, such as sodium hypochlorite, virkon and lime powder, are being sprayed across the zoo premises twice a day to prevent any local case, zoo officials said. The zoo has also stopped feeding chickens to its raptors, with teams asked to monitor the health of both captive and wild birds.
Each year, the zoo sees thousands of painted storks arriving, while other resident and local migratory species are also seen in the wild. This is in addition to the bird species that are captive and behind enclosures. The zoo director, Ramesh Kumar Pandey, said that a standard operating procedure had been formulated to disinfect areas where wild birds were often seen. Enclosures are being inspected and disinfected separately, Pandey added.
“This is being done rigorously through the day and each team has been asked to report any instances where a bird may seem to be unwell or if any bird death is found. So far, there is no cause for concern,” said the zoo director.
The zoo was shut down for nearly three months in 2016 after several bird deaths were recorded on the premises. Samples, which were then sent for testing, found some birds testing positive for the H5N8 strain of the avian influenza virus.
While bird flu mainly affects the domestic poultry, it can spread from infected birds to other winged creatures through contact with nasal and respiratory secretions and also due to contamination of feed and water.
The zoo has also stopped feeding fish to its wild visitors, including migratory species, to reduce the number of birds arriving on the premises. “The food intake is being checked and chicken feed has currently been stopped. If any bird is found dead, or we find multiple bird deaths, then the samples may have to be sent for testing and further measures put into place,” said Pandey.