Eight Asiatic lions in Hyderabad zoo infected with COVID, recovering well
File photo of a lion and a lioness in Hyderabad zoo.Sasha Bhogu/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0

Eight Asiatic lions in Hyderabad zoo infected with COVID, recovering well

New Delhi, May 4, 2021

Eight Asiatic lions housed in the Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) at Hyderabad have tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus (COVID) and all of them are responding well to treatment and are recovering, the Government said here today.

In a press release, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change also made it clear that there was no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further.

According to the release, the NZP had on April 24, as a matter of abundant caution, shared samples from the lions with the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) at Hyderabad. The samples were collected from nose, throat and respiratory tract of the eight lions under anaesthesia after they had displayed signs of respiratory distress.

"Based on detailed diagnostic tests and report as shared by CCMB-LaCONES on 4th May 2021, it has now been confirmed that eight Asiatic lions housed in Nehru Zoological Park (NZP), Hyderabad have tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus," it said.

"Further analyses of the samples have revealed that the infection was not caused by any variant of concern. The eight lions have been isolated and due care and necessary treatment has been provided. All the eight lions have responded well to the treatment and recovering. They are behaving normally and eating well. Preventive measures are already in place for all zoo staff and the zoo has been closed to visitors to avoid minimal external contact," the release said.

The release said the Central Zoo Authority has taken several pre-emptive measures including issuance of guidelines and advisories to the zoos towards precautions to be undertaken by zoos in the light of increasing number of cases of SARS CoV-2 .

"The monitoring and guidelines for prevention, sample collection, detection in suspected cases, and safety protocols for animal keepers etc have been suggested to zoos in consultation with scientific agencies and experts Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) Uttar Pradesh and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology – Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (CCMB-LaCONES) Hyderabad. Such advisories are readily available in public domain.

"As part of next steps new guidelines for COVID precautions are being further developed in consultation with experts. Additional information shall be issued as warranted.

"Based on experience with zoo animals elsewhere in the world that have experienced SARS-COV2 positive last year, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further. Media is therefore requested to exercise extreme caution while reporting and provide a responsible coverage for the same," the release added.

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