The Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur on June 11 informed that two lionesses including Neela, the dead lioness, were found to be positive for COVID-19. According to a press release, the AAZP sent samples of three Lions and four Tigers to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) for testing of SARS CoV2 virus on June 4. The officials said that the samples of four tigers and one lion were found to be negative, however, two lionesses were found to be positive for SARS CoV2.
Moreover, the press note said that IVRI has also tested the samples for other secondary pathogens and found that two lion samples were mildly positive (Low-level infection) for canine distemper virus (CDV). “The remaining five samples have tested negative for CDV and other pathogens,” AAZP said. It further added that the lion which is reported as CDV positive is asymptomatic to date and is healthy and active.
“As a precautionary measure, the animal has been isolated and is being closely monitored for any clinical symptoms of CDV. It is being re-sampled for confirmatory diagnosis of canine distemper, if any,” the zoo officials said.
The samples of all the lions are also being analysed through genetic sequencing in the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad which is an approved animal SARS-CoV-2 virus sequencing centre by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to find the strain of the virus that has infected the Lions. This analysis is expected to reveal better insights into the reasons and possibilities of COVID-19 contraction by Animals. It is worth mentioning that this is not the first case, several lions in other states have also tested positive for COVID-19;
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu CM has instructed senior officials of the Department of Environment & Forest and the Zoo to take all measures to provide the best treatment to infected Lions as per the Protocols. He asked the authorities to ensure that proper vaccination is administered to all animal Handlers and zoo officials.