04 May 2021: In a first, 8 lions test COVID-19-positive at Hyderabad zoo
In what is being seen as the first such case in India, eight Asiatic lions have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at a zoo in Hyderabad.
The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology informed the Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) on April 29 that the RT-PCR test results of the lions had come out positive for COVID-19.
Here are more details on this.
Details: 'The lions are doing well'
However, Dr. Siddhanand Kukrety, the Curator and Director of the zoo, said the lions had suffered symptoms but did not confirm the diagnosis.
"It's true that the lions showed COVID symptoms but I am yet to receive the RT-PCR reports from the CCMB and hence it will not be proper to comment. The lions are doing well," Dr. Kukrety told The Economic Times.
Details: 4 male and 4 female lions tested positive
Zoo officials had decided to test the lions after wildlife veterinarians at the facility noticed coronavirus-like symptoms such as coughing, nasal discharge, and a loss of appetite among some of the lions.
Subsequently, their swab samples were taken and sent to the CCMB in Hyderabad.
Of the 12 lions at the zoo, four males and four females tested positive.
Developments: NZP remains closed to the public since May 1
The Hyderabad zoo has remained closed to the public since May 1 following an advisory from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to close all zoological parks, national parks, and wildlife sanctuaries for visitors.
It is suspected the animals might have contracted the infection from some caretakers at the zoo.
In fact, recently, 25 park staff members had tested positive for COVID-19.
Quote: Lions infected with an old variant of COVID-19
CCMB Director Rakesh Mishra confirmed to The News Minute that the lions have been infected with an old variant of the coronavirus.
"Eight animals were found positive. They had symptoms also. We checked that they are infected with the old variant, not the new variant that we are concerned about. The animals are recovering, they are fine, they are eating," Mishra said.
Similar incidents: Not the first incident of animals contracting COVID-19
In April last year, seven tigers and lions had tested positive for the coronavirus at the Bronx Zoo in New York City.
The animals had reportedly been exposed to an asymptomatic zookeeper.
There have been isolated cases of pets contracting COVID-19 in other parts of the world too, but experts say that there is no evidence of them spreading the disease to humans.
Situation in India: The COVID-19 situation in India
India has been gripped by a dreadful second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The country has been reporting lakhs of new infections and hundreds of deaths on a daily basis for the past few weeks.
In the last 24 hours, India reported 3,57,229 new COVID-19 cases and 3,449 deaths.
India's active caseload has crossed 34 lakh.