Eight Asiatic Lions housed in the Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) in the city tested positive for Covid 19 virus. They exhibited signs of respiratory distress on April 24, 2021. Thereupon the veterinary team of the Zoo collected oral discharge swabs and the samples were sent to city-based CCMB-LaCONES for diagnosis.
Based on detailed diagnostic tests and reports as shared by CCMB-LaCONES on May 4, 2021, it was confirmed that all the eight Asiatic lions housed were tested positive for the SARS-CoV2 virus.
The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, (HoFF) And Chief Wildlife Warden, Hyderabad have said that Further analyses of the samples had revealed that the infection was not caused by any variant of concern. All the eight lions were isolated and due care and necessary treatment were provided by the veterinary team of Nehru Zoological Park from April 24th.
The veterinary team of the Zoo provided treatment to all the lions and supervised their wellbeing. Additionally, the animal keepers taking care of the Lions were provided with PPE. The moats were kept well ventilated and sanitized regularly. All the eight lions have responded well to the treatment and recovered. They are now active and taking a regular diet.
The conservator said that Preventive measures had already been taken to avoid the spread of SARS-CoV2 from the public and the zoo staff. A special drive was conducted in the first week of April to vaccinate all the staff and 95 percent of the Zoo staff had already been vaccinated. A few of the staff members, who tested positive for SARS-CoV2, have been asked to remain in isolation.
On the recommendation of the Central Zoo Authority, New Delhi, the Zoo has been closed to visitors since May 2, 2021, to avoid external contact. Based on the 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. The officer urged the media to exercise caution and provide responsible coverage for the same.
The Zoo authorities are in constant touch with the Central Zoo Authority in New Delhi and CCMB-LaCONES to complete the follow-up process on the contact of the virus.