Melbourne Zoo has put restrictions in place to protect its animals from a foot and mouth disease outbreak in Indonesia which is threatening to impact Australia.
There have been no domestic cases reported as yet and Australia’s borders are remaining open, despite a push by the opposition to close them.
Zoos Victoria said the risk of transmission to their animals was extremely low, but in an email to members they announced a series of protocol changes.
People who have recently visited Indonesia are being asked to wait 48 hours before visiting the zoo, while those who live with any livestock – except horses – have been requested to avoid visiting altogether.
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A public pathway along a trail where critically endangered Asian elephants walk between paddocks has been blocked off to ensure the animals are not stepping in soil that could have been brought in from outside the zoo.
Additionally, visitor encounters with giraffes, kangaroos, and elephants are temporarily unavailable.
“We have put in place some containment protocols to help ensure our animals are safe and that this risk remains low,” correspondence sent to zoo members this week read.
Zoo staff are also taking precautions to ensure animals are protected, and will be following the Department of Agriculture and Chief Veterinary Officer’s advice in the event of an outbreak.
Calls to shut the border to arrivals from Indonesia are damaging Australia’s agricultural reputation, at a time when the evidence suggests existing biosecurity measures are doing their job, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt says.