The number of spotted deer deaths in Delhi zoo (National Zoological Park, Delhi) this year could be as high as 46, said sources Thursday. This makes the death toll higher than the 39 initially found by a three-member Central Zoo Authority (CZA) team following an inspection of the zoo Tuesday, the sources added.
Delhi zoo authorities, however, maintained their stated position of 16 spotted deer deaths – 13 prima facie tested positive for rabies and the reason for the death of the other three is yet to be ascertained.
Sources said the CZA team arrived at the enhanced number of deer deaths after examining various records, including the register maintained by the beat keeper who guards the enclosure. Of the 46 spotted deer that died since January, 33 were adults and the rest infants, said sources. The death of infant deer are not maintained at Delhi zoo, the sources added.
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According to a source, the CZA inspection team found discrepancies in the numbers maintained by the veterinary hospital that conducted the post-mortems and those by the beat keeper. “There was sharp increase in the number of deaths in March and the toll increased in April,” said the source.
While Delhi zoo authorities insisted 13 deer deaths were caused due to rabies, sources said that they were waiting for a many as eight more reports from an independent laboratory.
Riaz Khan, chief curator of Delhi zoo, said, “We maintain that 13 spotted deer died due to rabies, while the reason of death of three more is yet to be ascertained. The methodology adopted by the CZA is different, they are considering stillbirths, which is never maintained by the zoo.”
After the inspection, the CZA directed Delhi Zoo to hold regular health advisory committee meetings. It recommended that Delhi zoo install CCTVs for monitoring animals.
The central body also urged Delhi zoo to seek recommendations from a panel comprising experts from the Wildlife Institute of India, Indian Veterinary Institute and the National Centre for Disease Control.