Behavioural change noted in some animals owing to zoo closure
By Indika Sri Aravinda
Animals at the Dehiwela Zoo are being tested for COVID-19 after a tiger in the US contracted the virus.
A tiger, the Bronx Zoo in New York City had tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, and six other big cats had been reported to be exhibiting symptoms consistent with the illness last week.
Following this, officials at the Dehiwela Zoo said that they had begun testing the animals for the virus and were closely monitoring their movements daily.
Dehiwela National Zoological Gardens Assistant Director Dinushika Manawadu told the Daily Mirror that officers at the zoo had been advised to even have a closer look at the food given to the animals.
Manawadu also noted following the closure of the zoo to the general public last month there has been a notable change in the behaviour of the animals.
The Dehiwela National Zoo, Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, Pinnawela Zoo, Ridiyagama Safari Park, Botanical Gardens and all the National Parks under the Wildlife Department were closed from March 15 as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Employees at the zoo had observed that after the zoo was closed the animals have been delaying consuming the food provided to them or have been acting differently as opposed to when there were large crowds at the zoo.
Caretakers of the animals feel that the animals have been used to large crowds and the sudden change after the zoo was closed has had an impact on their normal routine.
Zoo officials said that chimpanzees and some birds seem to be the most affected.
Environment, Wildlife, Lands and Land Development Minister S M Chandrasena is expected to visit the zoo today (Friday) to have a discussion with officials on the safety of the animals.