Nine zebras have died fighting among themselves and suffering from bacterial infectionsin Gazipur’s Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park in the last three weeks.
Md Jahidul Kabir, project director of the safari park, said the animals died between January 2 and January 24.
A panel of experts met on Tuesday after they received the autopsy reports of the zebras and detailed the reasons of death following the end of their discussion. The panel included three experts from the veterinary faculty, former Dhaka zoo curator Md Shahidullah and Gazipur livestock officials.
Earlier, samples from the dead zebras were sent to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research and Bangladesh Agricultural University.
The park authorities, however, kept the issue under wraps though they saw the first death on January 2. It was reported on Monday.
“The zebras were part of the African Core Safari range and as of now, nine of them have died,” Assistant Forest Conservator Tabibur Rahman told the media.
“The deaths of so many animals in a short period of time are unprecedented in the safari park,” Tabibur said, adding that the park was home to 31 zebras.
According to him, the affected animals were seen isolating themselves from the herd and fell on the ground and they apparently suffered from respiratory distress and swollen stomachs before they died.
Samples were sent to the lab for PCR tests to find out if the zebras died from coronavirus infections, but all tests yielded negative results, Jahidul said. The authorities checked the foods to rule out food poisoning.
“The other animals in the park are consuming the same foods as the zebras. They could be affected too, had it been a case of food poisoning.
We didn’t get any proof of food poisoning,” he said.
At least 90 percent of the dead zebras were female and most of them were born in the park.
The safari park has a strong security system, the project director said, adding that there was no chance for outsiders to enter and poison the animals.
“The authorities are focusing on all possibilities,” he said.