STATE TIMES NEWS Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir wildlife department has taken several steps for the safety of about 500 animals at the Manda Zoo here, including thorough check-ups, an official said, amid concern over a tiger testing positive for the novel coronavirus in the US. Wildlife Warden, Jammu, Shahzad Choudhary said none of the animals at the zoo have shown any symptoms of COVID-19 and they are all healthy. In the US, a four-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia tested positive for the coronavirus at New York’s Bronx Zoo. The tiger is believed to have contracted the virus from a caretaker who was asymptomatic at the time. Choudhary told PTI that we had closed the Manda Zoo for visitors on March 18 ahead of the national-level lockdown for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. He said zookeepers have been provided masks and hand sanitizers. The major thrust is on hygiene of enclosures , Choudhary said. The veterinary surgeon posted in the department visits the zoo every day and conducts a thorough check-up of the animals, he said. Leopard, bears, snakes, jungle cats, spotted deers, nilgais, peacocks, wild boars, swans, monkeys and parrots are among the animals kept at the zoo. The animals and birds are looked after very well. Sanitization and hygiene are our primary focus for the safety of the animals, the wildlife warden said. The Centre had already sounded alerts for zoos across the country advising quarantine for sick animals and personal protective equipment for zookeepers after the US incident. Veterinary officer Ranjit Katoch said the department is following the protocol issued by the Central Zoo Authority strictly and monitoring animals round-the-clock. We have reduced the strength of our staff to 30 percent, only those who are attending the animals, Katoch said. He said members of the staff on duty have been provided with gloves and masks, and even their clothes are being sanitized before they get close to animals for feeding them. The department has also tied up with the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) and carried out a sanitization drive in the zoo. Katoch said though none of the animals have shown any symptoms for the disease, they have put up in place a mechanism for sample lifting and testing.
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