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:
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:
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]