Hyderabad, May 4: Eight Asiatic lions at Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), reports said on Tuesday. Dr Siddhanand Kukrety, curator and director of the Nehru Zoological Park, neither denied nor confirmed the news. However, he acknowledged that these lions displayed COVID-19 symptoms. There are 12 lions in the 40-acre zoo. UK Sees First Case of COVID-19 in Animals as Pet Cat Gets Infected by Its Owner! From Minks to Dogs, Animals That Have Been Tested Coronavirus Positive.
According to two reports, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) informed the authorities over the phone that the RT-PCR tests of our male and four female Asiatic lions were positive. On April 24, wildlife veterinarians noticed COVID-19 symptoms like nasal discharge and coughing among the lions after which the RT-PCR tests were conducted, one of the reports said. COVID-19 Vaccine for Animals: Russia Registers 'World's First' Coronavirus Vaccine Carnivac-Cov for Dogs, Cats and Minks.
"It’s true that the lions showed COVID-19 symptoms but I’m 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 maintained. The two reports also said the CCMB will conduct a detailed investigation of the samples for genome sequencing to find out if the strain came from human beings or not.
A virtual meeting of MoEFCC, CCMB scientists, Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and NZP officials was held on April 30, a day after the CCBM informed the authorities about the lions testing positive. The issue was discussed at the meeting and accordingly an advisory to shut down all national parks, sanctuaries, and tiger reserves was issued.
This is perhaps the first such case in India. "After Bronx Zoo in New York, where eight tigers and lions tested positive for COVID-19 in April last year, there have been no such reported cases anywhere in wild animals," Dr Shirish Upadhye, director of city’s Wildlife Research & Training Centre (WRTC), was quoted by TOI as saying.