Several zoos in Gujarat, western India are imposing the social distancing measures on tigers, restricting them to solitary confinement after one in New York, US, contracted the COVID-19 disease. Superintendent Bharatsinh Vihol of the Kamala Nehru Zoological Garden said that the big cats were isolated in order to stem infection spread as a precautionary measure.
Vihol reportedly said the doctors have been inspecting the lions, tigers, and leopards on a daily basis at the facility for symptoms such as respiratory issues, runny noses, and cough. Since the spread, the planned breeding programme the zoo had implemented earlier, was also suspended, he added. The mating between the pair at the facility was restricted with immediate effect, he said.
According to reports, the zoo had been extra cautious about disinfecting the premises. The breeders were advised to wear protective masks and gloves while tending to the animals. They were also constantly screened for temperature and other symptoms related to the COVID-19. Vihol was quoted as saying, “We have been sanitizing the outer walls of the zoo on a daily basis, while individual enclosures are being sanitized every alternate day”.
With nearly 2 million visits each year, the zoo has been closed to the public amid the nationwide lockdown announced to stem the disease spread. Earlier, the famous Chhatbir Zoo in Punjab had also imposed a series of drastic measures for animal safety including minimizing interface between animals and humans, as per media reports. To boost the immunity of animals, they were given vitamin supplements and herbal tonics. Extra precaution was taken while handling and washing meat. Separate trays and separate vehicles were reportedly used for the carnivores.
Over a week ago, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger had tested positive to the COVID-19 at Bronx zoo in New York, after which, tigers worldwide are closely being monitored. Dr Paul Calle of the Bronx Zoo in New York was reported as saying that the tiger that tested positive for the coronavirus was the "first well-documented example" of a person transmitting the disease to an animal.