Bird flu scare: Patna Zoo closed

A zoo staff member covers himself while spraying chemicals as part of preventive measures against bird flu (H5N1 avian influenza virus) after six peacocks were found dead under mysterious circumstances, at the Patna zoo, Tuesday, Dec 25, 2018. (PTI Photo)

The Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, also known as Patna Zoo, has been “closed until further orders” following bird flu scare. The decision was taken after the avian influenza virus H5N1 killed six peacocks in the zoo in the last ten days.

Though the zoo and forest department officials were not sure how the peacocks contacted the virus, but the decision to shut down the zoo (even for morning walkers) was taken to minimise the possibility of catching infection.

Since December 16, six peacocks have died at Patna Zoo. Out of which three were males and three females. The remaining two peacocks have been quarantined.

“The death of peacocks was investigated and sample collections of spleen, lung, trachea, kidney and serum were sent to Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL), Kolkata for tests. The investigations at RDDL suggested symptoms of bird flu after which a test was conducted at National Institute of High Security Animal Disease, Bhopal. The tests at Bhopal found presence of avian influenza (H5N1) and the cause of death due to H5N1 viral infection,” said the Patna Zoo director Amit Kumar.

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, DK Shukla said there was no certainty how the peacocks contacted the virus. “Birds from outside tend to fly inside the zoo campus. That could be one possible reason, but it’s a matter of investigation,” he said. “The zoo is being thoroughly sanitized and experts would examine it after a week. Only when it is certified that it has been thoroughly sanitized and was safe for people, the zoo would be thrown open for general public,” the official added.

“Those who have booked their tickets for New Year celebrations at Patna Zoo can get it extended or refunded,” said Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, who holds the additional charge of Forest and Environment ministry.

Meanwhile, zoos in neighbouring Jharkhand, including Ranchi, have been put on high alert.    

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Bird flu scare: Patna Zoo closed

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