LAHORE - Director Lahore Zoo Shafqat Ali has said that the COVID-19 has not affected any animal or bird present at one of the world’s oldest zoos through effective measures and adoption of standard operating procedures recommended by World Health Organisation.

In an interview with APP on Sunday, he said coronavirus tests of skeleton staff and screening of animals were and all were tested negative for corona virus. He said the tests were conducted after a tiger was reported to be infected with the virus from an asymptomatic zookeeper of Bronx zoo in New York.

 About food supply to animals during the lockdown, he said the Lahore Zoo had adopted measures to ensure safety and health of animals and birds at the sanctuary with a storage of dry ration of one moth in case of complete lockdown by the government. “Injured and crippled animals may be slaughtered to feed to carnivores as a contingency plan if the lockdown effects food supply chain”, he responded.

To a question, he said the Lahore Zoo, as per the government policy, did not lay off any staff and even the daily wage staff was retained. He said a skeleton staff of 60 people was performing duty while the rest were asked to stay at home in the wake of corona virus.

About financial challenges due to lockdown, he said the Lahore Zoo raised 20 million rupees per month through gate income (tickets) and other sources including donations and the zoo has been deprived of this income for the past two months, adding the Lahore Zoo was a self-sustained body and was not financially challenged yet.

About threats of summer heat to animals, Shafqat Ali said the animals are protected against hot and cold weather, adding that Lahore zoo is one of the greenest zoos in the world with abundant tree and green cover. “There are more than 1500 trees including green vines over pathways”, he said.

He said the animals are protected against hot weather with sufficient water showering, provision of water coolers and ice, adding that choice of food is also made according to the scientific guidelines to protect animals from the heat-wave.