Karnataka zoo authority in talks with DFRL for testing kits

"We want to get some rapid method to test salmonella infection in meat, which resulted in deaths of three tigers of the 15 which were infected with the bacterial infection at Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) between September 10 and October 24," ZAK Chairman M Nanjundaswamy told reporters at BBP.

He said ZAK was in talks with DFRL which has some kits being used to test infection in milk and milk products. "We have to see its efficacy in detecting (salmonella) infection in meat", he said.

Scientists at Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals are in regular discussions with DFRL researchers to test the efficacy of the kit and also "how economical it is for us to procure it", he said.

M N Jayakumar, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life) and Member Secretary ZAK, said the authority is also in talks with some firms to come up with a microwave which has the capacity to kill microbes in 300-400 kg of meat at a time.

"In Canada, when 7,000 pet dogs died on being fed infected beef last year, some firms there came up with a microwave with the capacity to kill microbes in 500 kg of beef in three to four minutes. We are exploring the possibility of similar technological innovation being implemented here, for which we are in talks with some technicians", he said.

On recommendations by an expert team from Central Zoo Authority which recently visited the park, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden, B K Singh said all 15 (of the 18 infected tigers) are now "absolutely safe and have recovered".

"As of now there is no disease in any of the carnivores, either in Safari, Rescue Centre or Born Free Foundation, which has adopted some rescued tigers and all animals are healthy". There are in all 82 lions and 48 tigers at BBP.

A showcase notice has been issued to contractor Fayaz Ahmad who supplied contaminated beef and chicken meat and legal action would be taken against him, Nanjundaswamy said.

Police complaint has also been lodged against Ahmad. Nandini, a postgraduate in Veterinary Medicine, has been appointed on contract basis, Nanjundaswamy said.

During the Sept 10 - Oct 24 period, eight carnivores died, of which five died due to old age related factors and three due to bacterial infection. Preventive measures like construction of footpaths (with Potassium permanganate solution, a disinfectant) has been taken up at all entry points of animal holding houses, Singh said.

On creating spacious holding houses for animals, Executive Director (BBP) Tagore Millo said "we have already built one new holding houses with six cubicles for six tigers and two tigers have already been shifted to this new enclosure."

"However, it has to be taken up in a phased manner as the enclosures which are already there have to be dismantled and construction of new holding house cost Rs 30-40 lakh. One more enclosure is already in the pipeline," he said.

ZAK in its governing council meet on Oct 26 also decided to request the government to raise its (ZAK) Zoo Veterinarians cadre strength from six to 12, Nanjundaswamy said.

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