Zoo 'safe' after 100 tigers fall to bird flu

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Almost 100 endangered tigers have died or been culled at a Thai zoo after an outbreak of bird flu, but officials yesterday said the virus was under control.

Almost 100 endangered tigers have died or been culled at a Thai zoo after an outbreak of bird flu, but officials yesterday said the virus was under control.

The tigers became sick at the private Sriracha Tiger Zoo in central Chonburi province after eating raw chicken carcasses believed to be infected. The zoo was home to 441 tigers before the deaths began last week.

Some 83 dead tigers, including at least 18 killed by lethal injection, were confirmed bird flu victims, said Preecha Rattaporn, of the government's Wild Animal Protection and Conservation Centre. Eleven others were buried without tests.

He added. "The situation is under control now; only five to six tigers are still sick. I think no more than five more tigers will die from bird flu."

Surviving tigers were being protected with a common flu vaccine also used by humans.

Mr Rattaporn said suspicions voiced by some animal activists that the body parts from the tigers - valued as traditional medicine - had been retained and sold were unjustified. Only parts of their lungs had been saved for laboratory testing.

Bird flu this year has killed 11 people in Thailand and 20 in Vietnam and forced the culling of tens of millions of birds.

Although the virus has most commonly been found in chickens, scientists fear it could mutate with a human virus, sparking a global pandemic.

Last month Thailand announced its first probable case of human-to-human bird flu transmission. Experts fear the virus is entrenched in the region.

Comments