Bird flu scare: Byculla zoo beefs up surveillance in aviary

In the wake of bird flu scare gripping the state, the administration of Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyaan and zoo in Byculla has increased surveillance and check-ups of birds in the campus from once a day to three times a day. Even though the campus is closed and no outside or migratory bird gets entry into the zoo's aviary, with prevailing situation zoo administration is being extra cautious officials said.

The spread across 18,200 square feet, the 44-feet high aviary (a five-storey building) in the Byculla zoo that was inaugurated in January 2020, houses 200 plus birds of 100 different species of rare, exotic and common birds. It is India's first walk through aviary.

The BMC is yet to issue a guidelines or advisory on the bird flu and the zoo administration has raised an alert to ensure birds are healthy.

The Centre on Sunday directed the zoo managements to submit a daily report to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) till their area is declared free from the disease. The move comes two days after over 1,200 birds were found dead in the country with eight states including Maharashtra confirming an outbreak of avian influenza. The CZA, under the environment ministry, too issued an office memorandum directing the management of all zoos to strengthen surveillance and aviary management.

"We have been already taking extra care of all animals and birds in the campus since the COVID-19 outbreak. However, with bird flu scare around we have beefed up surveillance and check-ups of the birds in the aviary. Instead of once in a day, we have increased the surveillance three times a day to keep a close watch on the behaviour of these birds and keep a record of their health. We are doing this despite the facility is a closed one and no outsider or migratory birds have access inside," said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, director of Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyaan and zoo.

The bird flu scenarios across the country seem to be worsening with more and more number of birds are succumbing to the HSN1 infection (avian flu). Avian influenza has been confirmed as the cause of death of different birds in Parbhani, Mumbai, Thane, Beed and Dapoli in Maharashtra, as per test reports of a Bhopal-based lab. Following the death of around 900 hens at a poultry farm in Murumba village and the district administration has decided to cull nearly 8,000 birds in the village.

Meanwhile, all birds at Kanpur Zoo will be killed and sale of meat has been prohibited within 10 km radius of the zoo, after four fowl and two Hariman parrots had been found dead in the zoo in the last five days. All these were caged birds.

"We are taking all precautionary measures, and all our birds are healthy and doing fine, " added Tripathi.

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