Agartala, March 12 (IANS): Close on the heels of the detection of bird flu at two government-run farms in western Tripura, mysterious deaths of some animals and birds at the Sepahijala Zoo has put the authorities on alert.
"Since last week, three leopards, a wild cat and 13 birds, including some extremely endangered species, have been found dead at the zoo enclosures. We have sent samples to state and national level laboratories," Director of Sepahijala Zoo and head of the wildlife sanctuary Ajit Bhowmik told IANS on Saturday.
He said: "The samples have been tested by the Eastern Region Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ERDDL) in Kolkata and the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) in Bhopal. No indication of avian influenza or swine influenza has been found."
"According to the experts of the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Uttar Pradesh and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), the disease might have been caused by some viral infection. We have taken preventive measures for the other animals and birds in the zoo," Bhowmik added.
With the outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) at two government-run farms in western Tripura - Radha Kishore Nagar government duck farm and Gandhi Gram poultry farm, 30 km north of Agartala - the government has culled more than 16,000 ducks and poultry birds since last month. Besides, thousands of eggs and feeding material have been destroyed at both the farms.`Culling of birds and ducks has also been conducted at the villages adjoining the two government farms.
As per the CZA categorisation, the Sepahijala zoo is one of the 22 large zoos in India.
The 38-year-old zoo, 30 km south of Agartala and located inside the Sepahijala wildlife sanctuary, is currently home to more than 500 animals, many of them endangered, over 100 species of birds and ten species of reptiles.
The Sepahijala Sanctuary and Zoo have more than 46 species of wild animals kept for their conservation, protection and breeding.
The sanctuary has also been tagged as the national park for clouded leopards.