A nine-year-old lioness died of SARS COV-2 infection at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (AAZP), popularly called as Vandalur Zoo in Chennai, where nine lions have also tested positive.
An official release from the AAZP today said the lioness, Neela, died at around 1815 hrs last evening. It said on May 26, five lions housed in Animal House-1 of the Safari Park Area of the Zoo were reported to show anorexia (loss of appetite) and occasional coughing.
The in- house veterinary team of this zoo took immediate action to investigate and treat the animals as per protocol, the release said.
Blood samples were sent to TANUVAS and Nasal swab, Rectal swab and faecal samples of 11 lions were sent to National Institute of High Security Diseases (NIHSAD) Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, which was one of the four 4 designated institutes authorized to take up SARS CoV-2 testing in captive animals.
One of the lioness, Neela, housed in Animal House no-2 at the Safari area of zoo died yesterday at around 6.15 PM.
As per the laboratory test results furnished by the Institute, samples in respect of nine of the 11 lions have tested positive for SARS CoV-2. In order to ascertain whether or not the reported findings are in the nature of false positives or the animal could have died of comorbidities, samples have also been sent today to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute Bareilly and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.
All the lions which have tested positive are under close observation and on prescribed treatment regimen by the in-house veterinary team in close co-ordination with expert team from TANUVAS.
All animal keepers and helpers for these animal houses are vaccinated against Covid-19.
Separate set of animal keepers are engaged for each group of lions. PPE Kits have been made mandatory for the animal keepers, veterinary doctors and field staff visiting the area.
Meanwhile, Wildlife department sources said last year there were reports of tigers testing corona positive in bronx zoo, New York.
“Subsequently we inspected our feline cats and they were fine. But this year the lions have contracted the deadly virus,” the sources said.