The zoo public relations officer, Haneef said, “RT-PCR tests have been conducted on those animals exhibiting COVID symptoms
Eight Asiatic lions housed in the Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) Hyderabad have tested positive for the SARS-CoV2 virus.
Earlier, the Eight Asiatic lions had shown signs of respiratory distress due to which the authorities collected samples from their nose, throat, and respiratory tract under anesthesia on April 24, said the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change in an official press release. It further stated that based on detailed diagnostic tests and reports as shared by CCMB-LaCONES on May 4, it has now been confirmed that eight Asiatic lions housed in the zoo have tested positive for the SARS-CoV2 virus.
Speaking to ANI, the zoo public relations officer, Haneef said, “RT-PCR tests have been conducted on those animals exhibiting COVID symptoms. The doctors are currently examining the health condition of these animals.”
Reassuring that proper care is being taken of the infected lions, the ministry stated, “Further analyses of the samples have revealed that the infection was not caused by any variant of concern. The eight lions have been isolated and due care and necessary treatment have been provided. All the eight lions have responded well to the treatment and are recovering. They are behaving normally and eating well. Preventive measures are already in place for all zoo staff and the zoo has been closed to visitors to avoid minimal external contact,”
Central Zoo Authority has taken several pre-emptive measures including the issuance of guidelines and advisories to the zoos towards precautions to be undertaken by zoos in the light of the increasing number of cases of SARS CoV-2.
The monitoring and guidelines for prevention, sample collection, detection in suspected cases, and safety protocols for animal keepers, etc have been suggested to zoos in consultation with scientific agencies and experts Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) Uttar Pradesh and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology – Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (CCMB-LaCONES) Hyderabad.
“As part of next steps, new guidelines for COVID precautions are being further developed in consultation with experts. Additional information shall be issued as warranted,” said the ministry.
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 stated.