New Delhi, May 22: Nearly a week after the death of around 16 spotted deer, Delhi zoo authorities are in damage control mode, with health experts from across the country making a beeline for the National Zoological Park.
The animals of the species as also zoo keepers are being vaccinated against rabies. A separate enclosure has been built to keep the deer after vaccination. "We are vaccinating the deer in groups. Fourteen of them have already been vaccinated.
It is difficult to vaccinate them together as it might trigger panic among them," Riyaz Khan, zoo curator said.
He said two lab reports have confirmed the death of 13 spotted deer due to rabies. The cause of death of the remaining three is yet to be ascertained. The samples have been sent to another lab to help experts pin point the exact cause of their death.
According to zoo sources, contaminated water was found in the enclosure of spotted deer in February. There were also reports of presence of dead rats in the enclosure.
"Contaminated water might have flown into the enclosure of deer as there was leakage in a pipe. We had informed the Delhi Jal Board about it and the issue was resolved," Khan said.
The official, however, denied the presence of dead rats or mongoose in the deer's enclosure or around it. On being asked about the Central Zoo Authority putting the number of deaths at 39, the zoo curator said even still births are being counted by the Authority as death caused by suspected rabies thus giving the wrong notion.
Khan said experts from the Health Advisory Board, Wildlife Institute of India, CZA and others are visiting the zoo to inspect the health of the inmates. An expert who refused to be named said, "Our findings have found many loopholes on the part of the zoo.
The park lacks sound preventive measures not just for animals but also the zoo keepers. We will shortly submit our findings."