COVID-19: Delhi zoo sends samples of animals to IVRI as 'precautionary measure'

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New Delhi, May 7 (PTI) Three days after eight Asiatic lions in Hyderabad tested positive for COVID-19, the Delhi zoo on Friday said it has sent samples of some animals, including a lion, to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly 'as a precautionary measure'.

Zoo Director Ramesh Pandey said all protocols are being followed as per the guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority.

'We are vigilant and doing the needful. Samples of some animals, including a lion, have been sent to IVRI. Nothing adverse has been informed or reported so far. Detail reports are awaited,' he said in a statement.

'The animals haven't shown any COVID-19 symptoms. Samples have been collected as a precautionary measure,' Pandey said, without elaborating.

Sanitization drills at the zoo have been going on since the pandemic began last year.

'After COVID-19 phase, the zoo went through avian influenza sanitisation drills and now all protocols are being followed for SARS-COV-2,' he said.

The CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology had on Tuesday said eight Asiatic lions in the Hyderabad zoo have tested positive for COVID-19.

It had said these animals must have got infected through zoo-keeping staff.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had said the infected animals were behaving normally.

In view of rapid spread of the coronavirus in the country, the ministry recently issued an advisory to close all zoological parks, national parks, tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries for visitors till further orders to control the spread of the pandemic.

India has four designated COVID-19 testing centres for captive animals, of which IVRI is one.

According to reports published earlier, lions and tigers had tested positive for COVID-19 in zoos in Barcelona (Spain) and Bronx in the US. PTI GVS CK