Chennai: A nine-year-old lioness died of SARS COV-2 infection at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (AAZP), popularly called as Vandalur Zoo here, where nine lions have also tested positive.
Sources said the lioness, Neela, died Thursday evening. On 26 May, five lions housed in Animal House-1 of the Safari Park Area of the Zoo were reported to show anorexia (loss of appetite) and occasional coughing.
The in- house veterinary team of this zoo took immediate action to investigate and treat the animals as per protocol, they said.
Blood samples were sent to TANUVAS and Nasal swab, Rectal swab and faecal samples of 11 lions were sent to National Institute of High Security Diseases (NIHSAD) Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, which was one of the four 4 designated institutes authorized to take up SARS CoV-2 testing in captive animals.
One of the lioness, Neela, housed in Animal House no-2 at the Safari area of zoo died Thursday at around 6.15 pm.
The lioness had been asymptotic and showed some nasal discharge only on June two and had been symptomatically treated immediately.
As per the laboratory test results furnished by the Institute, samples in respect of nine of the 11 lions have tested positive for SARS CoV-2.
In order to ascertain whether or not the reported findings are in the nature of false positives or the animal could have died of comorbidities, samples have also been sent today to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute Bareilly and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.
The Park has been scrupulously following the precautionary measures prescribed in various advisories issued by the Central Zoo Authority, the Central and the State Governments from time to time, officials said.
Prophylactic measures for the felids, mustelids, viverrids and primates as arrived at in consultation with the expert team of TANUVAS, veterinarians of Hyderabad Zoo and also Bronx Zoo, are being adhered to, they added.
All the lions which have tested positive are under close observation and on prescribed treatment regimen by the in-house veterinary team in close co-ordination with expert team from TANUVAS.
All animal keepers and helpers for these animal houses are vaccinated against Covid-19.
Separate set of animal keepers are engaged for each group of lions. PPE Kits have been made mandatory for the animal keepers, veterinary doctors and field staff visiting the area.
Meanwhile, Wildlife department sources said last year there were reports of tigers testing corona positive in bronx zoo, New York.
“Subsequently we inspected our feline cats and they were fine. But this year the lions have contracted the deadly virus,” the sources said.