Record deaths at zoo, but it is not bird flu or rabies that’s killing them

Posted on Aug 11 2017 - 7:16pm by admin
Jasjeev Gandhiok

New Delhi:
Of the 325 deaths recorded at Delhi zoo in 2016-17, more than 100 cases were due to traumatic shock -that is, shock in captivity . Also, it was the first time in six years that over 300 animals had died in a single year.A day after Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan informed the Lok Sabha about the high mortality, TOI did a reality check to find that unlike the previous year, rabies and bird flu weren’t the biggest culprits this time. While 33 cases of rabies were reported, not a single death took place due to bird flu.“Forty-six resident birds that died last year were sent for testing for H5N8 virus.However, all tests came out negative. We could not find out the actual cause of death as postmortem wasn’t conducted at the zoo. At least five positive cases of bird flu were reported last year, but all these involved migratory birds,“ said a zoo official.

In fact, the total number of deaths recorded last year was greater than the combined figure of the three years prior to that. The zoo recorded 97 deaths in 2015-16; 56 in 2014-15; and 103 in 2013-14.

As many as 77 spotted deer deaths were recorded in 2016-17; 33 of these occurred due to rabies.

Another 59 blackbuck -a Schedule-I animal under the Widlife Protection Act, 1972 -died, several of them dying due to pneumonitis, an inflammation of lungs.

A total of 109 cases related to `traumatic’ shock that, zoo officials said, might occur when the ani mal was stressed or faced with extreme weather conditions. “Animals, especially deer, often fight among themselves to show superiority. This sometimes causes shock,“ said a zoo official.

In addition, 23 deaths were reported due to senility, 32 because of enteritis, 21 due to pneumonitis and eight owing to tuberculosis.

The zoo also lost all four of its monitor lizards, which were `pulled’ out during hibernation, leading to shock.An exotic African cape buffalo died due to tuberculosis.

Zoo authorities said they were taking precautions. “We are regularly cleaning the enclosures and using anti-viral spray for animals. We are using disinfectants for ponds and workers have been asked to use gloves,“ said Renu Singh, director, Delhi zoo.
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