Bird flu: Chicken, eggs off animals' diet in Mysuru Zoo

Zoo authorities have stopped feeding non-veg to select carnivores, birds

Following the outbreak of bird flu (H5N1 virus Avian influenza) at a poultry farm in Molkera village in Humnabad taluk of Bidar district, chicken and egg have gone off the menu for animals at Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, popularly known as Mysuru Zoo.

No sooner the reports emerged on Sunday, the authorities decided to stop serving chickens and eggs to select carnivores in the menagerie, as a temporary measure, veterinarian Dr Ramesh, also the assistant director of the zoo, told Deccan Herald.

Once the mass culling of chicken at the farm, owned by Ramesh Gupta and the epicentre of virus in Bidar district, is completed, the said food items will be back on the menu. Before that, the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAHVB) and the Central Laboratory, at Hebbal in Bengaluru, will issue a certificate, confirming that the supply of chicken and egg can be resumed for consumption, added Dr Ramesh.

As per procedure, daily 50 kg of live birds (fresh fowls) and 90 eggs are received by the zoo. They are dressed up in the kitchen within the precincts of the menagerie before being fed to the animals to ensure better health.

While tigers, lions and cats are served the thigh part of the chicken thrice a week, select birds are fed eggs as an extra diet. Besides, the birds are under regular surveillance, as a precautionary measure to keep a tab on their behaviour and deaths. Faecal samples are regularly collected and sent for tests.

In addition, visitors to the zoo are asked to dip their feet in a disinfectant at the main entrance to check the possibility of the spreading of the virus. In all, the zoo houses over 1,300 animals of different species, including lions, elephants, tigers, wolves, deers, snakes, and anaconda.

Scientist at the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL) of the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAHVB), Mysuru, Dr Dharnesh told this paper, “There is no reason for worry in Mysuru region as no frequent deaths of chickens are reported, especially after the Bidar incident. Moreover, every poultry farm is equipped with disinfectant and is put to use whenever a new batch of chickens arrive.

The jurisdiction of IAHVB in Mysuru is four districts — Mysuru, Mandya, Chamarajanagar and Kodagu.

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