Visakhapatnam: After a tiger in Bronx Zoo, New York, tested positive for Coronavirus, zoos in Andhra Pradesh have stepped up measures to protect the animals from the virus.

Besides other measures, Ivermectin, a common drug used for deworming is been seen as a better preventive and therapeutic medicine for COVID -19.

“Luckily, we did the deworming using this drug in February and March. This information once I shared with CZA is being appreciated,” said Vizag Zoo Curator Yesoda Bai. “I feel even for pet animals at home the same can be administered if people feel fearful in the current scenario.”

Central Zoo Authority has issued a guideline to Zoos in the country to remain on the highest alert and monitor animals for any abnormal behavior /symptoms. Besides, zookeepers and handlers have been asked not to roam without safety gear and wear preferably PPE (personal protective equipment), isolate and quarantine sick animals and have the least contact while providing feed to animals.

Zookeepers have been asked that the carnivores, especially cats and ferrets, and primates needed to be carefully monitored. Fortnightly samples of the suspect cases must be sent to the designated animal health institutes to initiate COVID-19 testing, while following bio-containment and safety measures required handling this high-risk pathogen as per the national/ICMR guidelines.

Vizag zoo has 2 Asiatic Lions, 4 RBT, 6 White tigers, 2 Leopards, 40 Wild dogs, 35 other canids, 5 lesser cats, 223 Herbivores including 4 elephants, Primates: 46, Rodents: 9, Reptiles: 203, Birds: 231 in Zoo. In Animal Rescue Centre, there are 6 big cats including four lions and 2 tigers and one female tigress.

“We are taking utmost care of the animals and animal keepers in the zoo. Keepers are using masks, gloves, boots, and headcover while working in the enclosure. They sanitize properly before feeding animals in the designated place. In the store, the staff follows the same protocol. Vegetables and other feed items are washed thoroughly before distributing to enclosures,” said the zoo curator.

Regular prophylactic is being done at the enclosure. Workers are being checked for any illness before entering Zoo and only those staff who are healthy, below 50 years of age and coming from nearby locations are allowed.

Carnivore, primate (Chimpanzee), Giraffe and Zebra enclosures are under surveillance of CCTV.

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