The Delhi Zoo finally got a green light to reopen from January 11 after it was shut down following deaths of several birds due to avian flu three months ago. The temporary shut down was for control and containment of the disease and safety of the visitors.
The decision was taken after the Delhi government asked the Centre to allow reopening of the zoo and other parks namely Shakti Sthal near Rajghat, Hauz Khas Deer Park, District Park in Paschim Vihar and a water body in Madipur.
A footfall of 6,020 people was witnessed on the first day at the zoo after it reopened. “The situation is under control and we are taking all safety measures to ensure that no bird death takes place,” said an animal husbandry official.
Riyaz Khan, the National Zoological Park’s curator said: “We are taking under consideration all precautions from the past three months and will continue this practice for the next 3-4 months.”
“Every single worker has been strictly ordered to wear fresh gloves, gumboots and clothes given by the zoo authority every day. To avoid spreading of this infection, no one is allowed to take back their worn clothes,” he added.
“I was waiting for the zoo to reopen so that I make my child experience it. This zoo is the only place where I can show my child different species of different animals,” said Usha a resident of Malikpur village.
No birds have been tested positive of the H5N8 AIV virus since the death of a black-necked stork on November 29. Zoo authorities, however, said that they will take necessary precautions, especially in bird enclosures, such as spraying disinfectants and bleaching powder. Also, vehicles will not be allowed inside the zoo for some time. “We conducted tests and collected samples every other fortnight and after getting negative results for a month, we decided to reopen the parks and the zoo,” said the animal husbandry official.
Samples of the dead birds along with samples of water, soil, fecal matter, cloacal and tracheal swabs from birds from the affected areas are being collected by the Rapid Response Team (RRT) on a weekly basis and are also being sent to the NIHSAD in order to carry out the surveillance for AIV.
A zoo official said: “Every necessary vehicle like the food truck and ambulance is allowed inside the premises only once it has been sprayed with disinfectants.”
The avian influenza virus poses no apparent threat to humans, but highly pathogenic strains can be deadly to domestic poultry and rarely, wild birds. The Director of Animal Husbandry, Delhi, has declared NCT of Delhi free from H5N8 strain of avian influenza.