The government said on Tuesday that Eight Asiatic Lions tested COVID-19 Positive at the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad, the first such reported incident in India. An analysis of samples collected from their nose, throat, and respiratory tract under anaesthesia showed that the infection was not caused by any variant of concern.
The government said the animals were responding to treatment and cautioned against fear-mongering. “Based on experience with ZOO animals elsewhere in the world that have experienced SARS-COV2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) positive last year, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further,” the government said in a statement.
Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park has a total of 12 lions. Eight among them have been found positive for the Coronavirus. Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Director Rakesh Mishra told TNM that the same kits that are used for humans were used to test the big cats too.
“Eight animals were found positive, they had symptoms also. We checked that they are infected with the old variant, not the new variant that we are concerned about. The animals are recovering, they are fine, they are eating. They are also putting systems in place so that the animals are more isolated, removing possibilities of more infections. All those procedures are being put in place,” Mishra said.
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The Hyderabad Nehru Zoological Park has been closed to the public since May 2 in view of the rising cases of COVID-19 after an advisory from the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change, New Delhi to close all zoological parks, national parks, tiger reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries for visitors.
Based on the orders, it was decided that the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad, the Kakatiya Zoological Park in Warangal, the Kawal and Amrabad Tiger Reserves, and all national and wildlife sanctuaries in Telangana be shut as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus among wildlife.