Eight Asiatic lions at Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park have tested positive for Covid-19. This is the first case of lions or any other animals testing positive in an Indian zoo. RT-PCR tests of the infected animals were conducted by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, examined the nasal and throat samples(oropharyngeal swab) of the big cats.
Zoo officials raised an alarm last week when they saw the pack of Lions wheezing with dry cough, nasal discharge and loss of appetite and the samples of four male and four female lions were sent to the CCMB on April 19. The RT-PCR tests came out to be positive for Covid-19. This is the first time in India that transmission of the virus to animal through human has been detected. For now, the infected animals have been completely isolated and zookeepers taking care of them have been asked to wear protective gears and masks. The Nehru Zoological Park has been shut for public as a precautionary measure. Other animals in the zoo are also on a close watch. The CCMB wrote to concerned authorities to collect faeces samples of animals. Mishra 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 the CCMB from time to time for analysis. In the “squeeze cage” method, the animal is confined in a cage without any space so that it cannot move or resist while taking samples.
On May 1, the environment ministry issued orders for closing all the zoo parks and animal sanctuaries in the state. There have also been isolated instances of pets getting coronavirus elsewhere in the world, but experts have stressed that there is no evidence of them spreading the disease.