Treating zoo animals with foot and mouth disease, a challenge

Treating zoo animals with foot and mouth disease, a challenge

Treating zoo animals with foot and mouth disease, a challenge

Treating herbivorous animals for foot and mouth disease (FMD) inside Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) has become a challenge for veterinarians and keepers of the animal enclosures due to the huge numbers and high sensitive nature among these animals. 

Although BBP officials say that FMD has been controlled inside the zoo from spreading, treating those affected has become a Herculean task.  BBP Executive Director Range Gowda says that  it is not possible to isolate the ones affected with FMD, since these herbivorous are huge in numbers. 

“There are still close to 30 animals affected with FMD and many limping and are infested with maggots. We are providing these animals with oral medication, but treating their foot is a challenge,” he added.  Gowda said that if it starts raining, the damp weather will aggravate the spread of the disease. Echoing similar concerns, BBP veterinarian Dr Chittiappa said although an immunity belt has been created to protect the zoo and safari animals and all domestic animals have been vaccinated within five kilometers from BBP, treating the affected animals is difficult.  “When we try to dart the animal for treatment, they try to hide behind bushes.  It also becomes difficult to identify the same animal again.  Many animals have developed foot lesions and we are trying to ensure that these animals walk on mud slush as a treatment. But due to huge numbers, it has become difficult to treat the affected animals,” he added.

BBP is also spraying disinfectants in these herbivore enclosures and have closed the safari for the public for now.  BBP has already lost 15 animals to FMD which mainly affects those animals which have cloven hoof foot. Till date seven nilgais, three sambars and spotted deer and two gaurs have succumbed to the disease.  Besides treating the zoo herbivorous, BBP authorities also have additional responsibility of treating wild spotted deer which have entered the sloth bear safari from the forests.  These deer have multiplied over a period and there are over 60 of them living along with sloth bear eating the food supplied to them. According to Dr Chittiappa, these animals are also being treated for FMD. 

A seven-year-old sloth bear Akash succumbed to cardiac arrest on October 12 after the animal developed convulsions at the Bear Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre run by Wildlife SOS authorities. The animal was kept under intensive treatment and isolation due to convulsive seizures. Unlike most sloth bears which are dying of tuberculosis, Akash died of cardiac arrest. The bear was rescued in November 2007 from a man-animal conflict in the State.

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