In a first, 8 Asiatic lions test positive in COVID-19
New Delhi, May 04: In a first, eight Asiatic lions in Hyderabad zoo have tested positive for COVID-19. The lions, lodged in the 380-acre zoo, are said to be recovering. The RT-PCR tests of the lions were conducted after they showed symptoms of COVID-19.
"8 Asiatic lions housed in Hyderabad zoo have tested positive for SARS-COV2 virus. They have been isolated, responding well to treatment, behaving and eating normally. Preventive measures in place for staffers and zoo closed to visitors," said Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
"Based on experience with zoo animals elsewhere in the world that have experienced SARS-COV2 positive last year, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further," it said.
"The saliva samples of the Asiatic lions were thoroughly tested and they turned out to be positive. As they were living closely it must have been spread among them," Rakesh Mishra CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology said.
"Now we are developing a method to test the samples of their faeces. This method would be useful in future as every time itis not possible to collectsaliva samples from wild animals," he added.
He further said the virus which is present in the lions at the Nehru Zoological Park here is not any new variant.
"They have mild symptoms and they are eating well and they are fine," he said.
Replying to a query, he said there is every possibility of animals contracting the virus as they are also mammals like human beings.
Mishra further said these animals must have got infected through zoo-keeping staff.
A senior official of the zoo said they keep sending the samples of the animals to CCMB from time to time for analysis.
As the lions started showing symptoms such as fever, the zoo officials collected the samples and sent them to CCMB.
The official further said the samples from the wild animals will be collected either by ''Squeeze cage'' method or by tranquilising them.
In the ''squeeze cage'' method, the animal will be confined in a cage without any space so that it cannot move or resist while taking samples.
In view of rapid spread of the coronavirus in the country, the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change, 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.
Accordingly, the zoo here, Kakatiya Zoological Park, Warangal, Kawal and Amrabad Tiger Reserves, all National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Telangana were closed from May 2, an official release had earlier said.