Mysuru zoo to be shut for a month, the longest in its history

Sudden decision follows death of six birds from Avian Influenza

For the first time in 124 years, Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, popularly known as Mysore zoo, will be closed for the general public for a month, from January 4 (Wednesday) to February 2.

The zoo’s executive director, K Kamala, announced the closure after some free-range and migratory birds at the zoological garden died of Avian Influenza (H5N8). Six birds — four Greylag geese and two Spot-billed pelicans — died on December 28 and 30, 2016. The samples were sent to the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAH&VB), Bengaluru. The IAH&VB forwarded them to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NISHAD), Bhopal, which concluded that the birds died of H5N8.

On Tuesday, the zoo authorities held an emergency meeting that was attended by IAH&VB additional director Dr T S Manju, veterinary officer in the office of the joint director, Mysuru division, Dr H K Channegowda, district surveillance officer, Health and Family Welfare, Dr Kusuma, and others. The authorities decided to close the zoo in the interest of public health as well as the animals.

According to Kamala, the zoo has 813 birds of 79 species, and all the birds in the ponds appear normal. Still, as a precautionary measure, their samples will be collected randomly. While samples of free-range geese will be sent to the IAH&VB, those of others will be sent to NISHAD once in 10 days, she added.

The zoo administration has undertaken control and containment measures against Avian Influenza. Entry is restricted near pond number 3 where the birds have died. A special team of personnel has been deployed to take care of the disinfection process, the executive director said.

Besides, the intersectional movement of the zoo personnel has been restricted, and strict biometric measures have been put in place at entry and exit points, providing foot dips and strict bio-security measures for entry of vehicles and disinfectant is sprayed to the tyres of vehicles.

The zoo staff have been given face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers. The zoo authorities are also planning to undertake an awareness programme on Avian Influenza and health care in co-ordination with the departments of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, and Health and Family Welfare, Kamala said.

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