GUWAHATI, Aug 21 - Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal this afternoon inspected the Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden where the canine distemper disease has claimed the lives of eight jackals in the last 13 days.
Sonowal was accompanied by Minister of State for Forest Naba Kumar Doley and Batadraba MLA Angurlata Deka, besides higher officials of the State Forest Department. During his visit, the CM first had a meeting with the Zoo officials and then inspected the enclosures of jackals, vultures and lions. Recently, a Himalayan vulture had also died in the Zoo with veterinary officials attributing the death to old age.
�In the past few days ,there has been news about animal deaths in the Zoo. So, I have come here to take stock of the situation. I discussed the situation with the DFO, who informed me that altogether eight jackals have fallen to the canine distemper virus in the last days,� he said.
During the visit, Sonowal laid stress on improving the overall environment in the Zoo, and said, �We have to improve the environment in the Zoo and take all preventive measures, so that such diseases do not recur. For this, veterinary facilities will have to be developed. We will avail world class veterinary treatment in this Zoo. I hope that in the future, the number of animals will increase in the Zoo, along with visitor footfall.�
Sonowal also announced that a research cum training centre would be set up on the Zoo premises. �The research cum training centre will be set up mainly for the benefit of schoolchildren so that they can acquire knowledge on wildlife and its conservation during a trip to this Zoo,� he said.
Sonowal also said that direction has already been given to the authorities concerned to take all necessary steps for vaccination of animals to prevent the canine distemper virus.
�From today we have started the vaccination drive to prevent canine distemper. The vaccine is not available in India and we procure it from USA. This morning, a Royal Bengal Tiger, an Asiatic lion and a hyena were vaccinated and by evening other animals including the white tiger will be vaccinated. Till now, altogether eight jackals, including one male and seven female, have died due to the disease and most of them were sub-adults. The animals died without showing any symptoms. The other jackals have been quarantined and isolated from other animals. We have taken all precautionary measures for the safety of the jackals,� Zoo veterinary official Panchami Sarma said.
Meanwhile, veterinary officials in the Zoo are at a loss as to how the canine distemper virus came in contact with the animals.
�How the virus got its way into the Zoo is not yet known. It is very common among dogs. But, in case of a Zoo it is a very rare disease. We are investigating the route through which it was transmitted,� Sarma added.