By Carles Grau Sivera
Cairo, Dec 15 (efe-epa).- Egypt’s largest zoo is home to 6,000 animals but only 30 parrots have been tested for Covid-19.
The rest of the creatures and the staff have yet to be tested.
The parrots in question were trafficked in from Nigeria and intercepted 10 days ago at Cairo International Airport.
“Imported parrots underwent PCR because they are non-zoo animals, but there is no need to test all animals unless symptoms appear,” Mohamed Ragaie, the head of the Egyptian Ministry of Environment Zoo department, told Efe.
Animals are also tested if they come in contact with a sick keeper and the same protocol applies to the staff. The Giza zoo is coronavirus-free, Ragaie stressed.
Wahid is responsible for the monkeys and a brown bear. Today his duties involved capturing an ape with a net to inject it with an anti-biotic and distracted the bear so a colleague could spray its fur with anti-bacterial for a skin issue. He himself was not wearing a mask.
“I have left it in the cabin,” said Wahid, 49, who has spent three decades as a zookeeper.
He is confident he has not contracted Covid-19 despite never having undergone a test. Instead, he gets a monthly X-Ray to detect any chest abnormality.
The PCR “is very expensive,” he said.
In Egypt, a PCR test can set a patient back around 1,200 to 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($76-190). Private laboratories administer the majority of tests.
There has been no evidence of viral transmission between the big cats and their keepers at the Giza zoo, something that has occurred elsewhere in the world.
The lions do not show symptoms, the head of the Prevention and Treatment Department of the historic establishment, Rabaa Abdelnabi Mohamed, told Efe.
“Look, it is urinating fine. Everything is normal,” the doctor comments as Hogan, one of the resident lions, answered nature’s call.
Life continues oblivious to the coronavirus inside the Giza zoo.
The complex went through its golden years at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Back then, it was an institution at an African and global level, but over the past few decades, it has become a park where less wealthy families spend the holidays.
Egypt, the most populated Middle Eastern country with 100 million people, has reported over 122,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 7,000 deaths since the virus was first detected in February.
The World Health Organization has repeatedly warned that Egypt only conduct tests for those with severe symptoms and medical personnel.
The same applies for the zoo, where both animals and keepers do not know whether they have contracted the virus since it reopened in August following months of closure in the wake of the outbreak. EFE-EPA