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A plea expressing concern over the shortage in supply of food for animals housed in several zoological parks across India was heard by a CJI SA Bobde led bench today, when the Supreme Court observed that their "information was that animals do not die of Corona."
The plea by animal rights activist Sangeeta Dogra was heard by CJI Bobde and Justice L Nageswara Rao.
The petitioner stated that Delhi Zoo had invoked the Essential Services Act to get access to supply of food and that such information was not available for other zoos.
The plea further stated that another issue concerned Coronavirus cases in animals. In the latest development, a tiger in Bronx zoo in US has reported Coronavirus-positive.
To this, the CJI said that as per their "information, animals didn't die of Corona."
However, the bench was informed that while animals did not die of COVID-19 "they can get the virus from humans and can transmit the virus."
Dogra prayed that there was a need for in house doctors and medical treatment for wildlife in zoos. The petitioner has also highlighted that Hyderabad zoo had sent a sample for testing on March 5 and are presently awaiting results.
The CJI at this juncture noted that the prayer for in house doctors and medical treatment for wildlife in zoological parks was not a part of the petition. Thus, the petitioner was directed to amend the plea.
The case has now been listed for April 13.
The latest Bronx zoo episode has put the Indian zoo authorities in high alert mode.
Different agencies, including the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on 6 April wrote to all Wildlife Wardens to maintain an increased vigil on tigers.
India is the home to about 70% of the world’s tiger population and officials of the NTCA have said that they could not take chances if the spread of the virus has been reported in a tiger.
The letter from the NTCA to all tiger ranging states that owing to the communicable and zoonotic nature of the coronavirus, certain actions need to taken to avert the disease in wild tigers in India.