KARACHI, Jan 20: Two more female fallow deer died in the zoo on Sunday as zoo officials remained clueless about how to tackle the outbreak of mysterious infection which has so far claimed the lives of 21 animals in around 15 days.
A recent visit to the zoo had shown that the infection, which largely affected female deer, had caused wounds on the bodies of animals.
The zoo staff refused to share the record of animal births and deaths and the report of a Karachi-based laboratory where blood samples of diseased animals had been sent 11 days ago for diagnosis. According to zoo staff, no infection had been detected in the report.
Meanwhile, sources said the delay in diagnosing the illness was taking its toll on the lives of animals. They said the infection might have been picked up from outside the zoo premises since a few members of the staff used the zoo’s veterinary equipment on private farms.
“They use equipment such as the tranquiliser guns at private farms,” said the sources. “Since there is no concept of sterilising the equipment, it is very likely that the infection might have been picked up from other places and is now affecting animals inside the zoo that are largely sensitive because of continuous inbreeding.”
Sources expressed surprise at the fact that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, under whose umbrella the zoo functions, had not sought any help from wildlife experts yet even though 21 animals had died.
“The lab report is being kept under wraps for unknown reasons while there appears a routine nonchalance on the government’s part,” said another source. “The sincerity of the government can be gauged from the fact that the officials didn’t include a single private-sector wildlife expert in the committee investigating the deaths of zoo animals. All members of the committee are KMC employees.”
Besides, the sources said, save for one, all veterinarians in the zoo are livestock experts and this was another matter which needed to be looked into for a fair investigation.
So far, the committee collected fresh samples from the diseased animals and sent them to the Central Veterinary Laboratory, Tandojam, whereas samples of animal feed had been sent to the Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The results are expected to arrive this week.