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  Delhi zoo shut over bird flu scare

Delhi zoo shut over bird flu scare

Published : Oct 20, 2016, 1:49 am IST
Updated : Oct 20, 2016, 1:49 am IST

In the wake of the death of nine water birds due to H5 avian influenza, the Delhi government on Wednesday announced shutting down of the National Zoological Park.


In the wake of the death of nine water birds due to H5 avian influenza, the Delhi government on Wednesday announced shutting down of the National Zoological Park.

Delhi development minister Gopal Rai said the government will hold a meeting with doctors and experts to analyse the situation after three days. “If the situation improves, we will take a decision on the reopening of the zoo,” he said.

Zoo curator Riyaz Khan said that nine “local migratory” birds, including painted storks, ducks and pelicans died between October 14 and 17. He confirmed H5 avian influenza as the reason behind the deaths.

Mr Rai said, “We had sent samples of the dead birds to Jhalandhar lab which detected symptoms of some virus. For second opinion, we had also sent these samples to a Bhopal-based laboratory run by the Centre which also confirmed the same,” he said.

The National Zoological Park has been battling with a spate of animal deaths since early 2016. Around 46 spotted deer were found dead on its premises in January. It also lost its sole King Cobra recently. The zoo official claimed the influenza will not affect humans and the shutting down of the zoo premises was a “precautionary” measure.

The zoo houses around 40 pelicans and 20 ducks. A team of Central Zoo Authority will visit the zoo premises shortly. Meanwhile, the government has constituted six rapid action teams to monitor the situation in Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Ghazipur Murga Mandi, Yamuna Diversity Park, Najafgarh drain, Nizamuddin, where migratory birds come in good numbers.

The zoo has about 1,400 animals, reptiles and birds belonging to around 130 species. The sprawling park, one of the largest in India, gets about 2.2 million visitors annually.

Mr Rai said that the government will closely monitor the Delhi zoo, bird sanctuaries, poultry farms and chicken markets in the city. Mr Rai said the situation is “not alarming” for now and added that the influenza doesn’t affect humans directly.

The minister went to the zoo with officials on Wednesday to take stock of the situation.

He said this is for the first time that H5 avian influenza has affected birds.

The government has set up a monitoring cell and issued a helpline number (011-23890318) appealing Delhiites to inform in case they spot dead birds in their vicinity.

At the zoo, a 10-member team will be closely monitoring the situation.

Mr Rai said that according to experts, only birds are affected.

“If people consume infected chicken, they can get affected. If virus spread and its symptoms are spotted, we will put some restrictions,” he further said.

Mr Rai also said the Delhi government has called a meeting on Friday with a team of officials of Maharashtra, which effectively dealt with this virus 10 years ago.

Wildlife and bird experts on Wednesday advised against any panic in the wake death of birds at Delhi zoo, saying chances of the H5 avian influenza spreading among exotic migratory birds was very less.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi