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Karnataka Govt. Informs HC About The Steps Taken To Ensure Welfare of Animals in Zoos [Read Submission]

Mustafa Plumber
12 April 2020 4:45 AM GMT
Karnataka Govt. Informs HC About The Steps Taken To Ensure Welfare of Animals in Zoos [Read Submission]
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    • The State Government on Thursday tendered its written submission to the Karnataka High Court in which it enumerated steps being taken to ensure welfare of animals in Zoos and that of captive elephants owned by the Government as well as private persons, including temples and Mutt.

      Zoos have been included in the list of essential services by the Ministry of Home Affairs. There are nine Zoos in the state which houses 5247 animals.

      A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna were informed that Zoos are closed for visitors since March 15. Only staff required for essential work associated with animal care and security are attending work. Keepers have been asked to minimize contact with animals as much as possible. Staff have been requested to come to work only if they are healthy and free from COVID 19 symptoms.

      Recently, a tiger at New York's Bronx Zoo had tested positive for Covid-19. It is believed to have contracted the virus from a caretaker who was asymptomatic at the time. In Karnataka there are 51 tigers, 33 lions, 96 panthers, at different zoos in the state.

      State has said that biosecurity measures which were already in place as routine standard practices at zoos are being followed. , they include:

      • 1. Medicated foot-dip soaked with anti-microbial agent at the entrance gates through which all staff and vehicles must pass through so that any microbe attached to footwear is removed.
      • 2. There are foot-dip soaked with anti-microbial agent, hand wash, hand sanitizers, gloves boots and masks at every animal enclosure for the use of keepers, supervisors, and veterinarians.
      • 3. All animal enclosures are cleaned every day and sanitized with anti-microbial agents.
      • 4. Entire Zoo area is sanitized periodically.
      • 5. All animals are observed closely by their respective animal keepers, supervisors, and veterinarians. If needed, spotting scopes, binoculars, and CC cameras are also used to monitor animals.
      • 6. All animals are fed with quality food and fodder. The quality of food material is personally checked and certified by the zoo veterinarians before feeding. In case of beef, it is sourced from Government Licensed certified slaughterhouses, and beef quality is certified by the Veterinarian of City Municipal Corporation.
      • 7. All washable food items (fruits, vegetables, beef, chicken, etc.) are thoroughly washed before feeding the animals.
      • 8. All food material carrying vehicles are required to pass through a trough filled with anti-microbial solution so that any microbes attached to the tyre of the vehicle are removed.
      • 9. There are quarantine facilities at every zoo.
      • 10. Every zoo has sufficient medicines and tools required for animal treatment.
      • 11. All animals are vaccinated and dewormed as per standard protocol.
      • 12. Restrictions are placed on animal keeper's movement from one section to another.
      • 13.  Zoo Health Committee involving eminent Veterinary Scientists for Veterinary Universities, Research Institutes and Veterinary Practitioners is constituted to guide zoos on health care aspects of zoo animals.

      In addition to these measures, every morning, at the entrance gate itself, everyone is being checked for body temperature using thermal guns and for other symptoms of Covid-19. Only healthy persons are allowed to enter the zoo and report to the duty.

      Staff with symptoms of COVID 19 have been asked to inform the zoo office. Drivers and other staff of food supply vehicles have been made to wear masks and use hand wash and sanitizers.

      The areas frequented by food supply vehicles and staff are sanitized daily. Biometric attendance has been stopped and one supervisor is marking attendance in a register. All staff of the zoo (including office staff) have been provided with facial masks and sanitizers.

      Most of the meetings of officers are being conducted over mobiles and if a physical meeting is required only minimum officers are required to attend the meeting or conduct zoo rounds, while strictly maintaining social distancing.

      Measures for Protection of Elephants

      Instructions have been given by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden, Karnataka, to all the Chief Conservators of Forests, Deputy Conservators of Forests, and Conservators of Forests in order to avoid the spreading of Covid-19 infection, to captive elephants, are:

      • 1. Take immediate preventive measures to stop the transmission and spread of the virus from humans to elephants. This can be ensured by supply of masks/disinfectants, establishment disinfectant tent in elephant camps, and ensuring all staff to pass through the tent periodically.
      • 2. The camp area, including the kitchen, are to be regularly sprayed with 0.5% Sodium hypochlorite solution or potassium permanganate solution. Materials/supplies brought from outside are to be sprayed with 65% alcohol solution and vegetables are washed thoroughly;
      • 3. At the time of feeding, a minimum of 50 metres distance has to be maintained between two elephants;
      • 4. Elephants are to be observed for symptoms consistent with Covid-19 such as respiratory signs of nasal discharge, coughing and laboured breathing through direct observation. In case of symptoms, the animal/s are to be isolated and samples of suspected cases are to be collected and sent to the designated animal health institutes to initiate Covid-19 testing while following all bio-containment and safety measures required as per the national/ICMR guidelines.
      • 5. Persons dealing with elephants, particularly mahouts and kavadis are to be regularly screened and it should be ensured that they are Covid negative. In case of symptoms of Covid being observed, they should immediately be put under medial isolation.
      • 6. Diligence needs to be exercised while handling post mortem cases to record locations, age, and sex of the animal while collecting the sample for corona virus diagnosis.
      • 7. The entry of visitors and outsiders is to be strictly prohibited into elephant camps.
      • 8. Elephant mahouts and kavadis are to be sensitized not to interact with the public including their extended family members and neighbours.
      • 9. The DCF/CF should ensure the presence/availability of veterinary doctor-in-charge of camp on 24/7 basis and should get a report about the health of elephants periodically particularly for the symptoms of Covid-19.
      • 10. The DCF/CF should ensure availability of adequate food supplies to camp elephants and also check the availability of food supplies to the private temple and mutt, elephants.
      • 11. Take other possible steps to control the spread of the virus;

      The bench directed the authorities that in case DCF/CF find that the captive elephants are not getting adequate food supply, they will immediately endeavour to contact the NGOs working in the field with a view to make available the food supply to the captive elephants. The data of such captive elephants in private custody shall be made available to DCF/CF.

      The bench said "Except for these directions, at this stage, no other directions are required to be issued regarding protection to animals in Zoos and elephants."

      Click Here To Download Written Submission

      [Read Written Submission]

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