Leopard at Chennai zoo died because of brain haemorrhage: Postmortem

After 70 zoo staff tested positive for COVID-19, authorities started collecting nasal swab samples of big cats and fourteen samples were collected.

Published: 19th January 2022 06:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2022 01:13 PM   |  A+A-

Officials inspect the rusty cage which led to the death of the leopard at Vandalur zoo in Chennai

Officials inspect the rusty cage which led to the death of the leopard at Vandalur zoo in Chennai. (Photo| EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The 14-year-old leopardess, Jaya, which died in a freak accident on Monday, was choked to death inside the poorly maintained, rusty squeeze cage at Arignar Anna Zoological Park. 

Sources in the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS), whose veterinarians conducted a postmortem on Tuesday, told The New Indian Express that the big cat’s ribs were squeezed, affecting oxygen flow to its lungs. This resulted in clotting of blood and brain hemorrhage leading to death. 

After 70 zoo staff tested positive for COVID-19, authorities started collecting nasal swab samples of big cats. Fourteen samples were collected and sent to Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases for testing. Last year, several lions had tested positive for COVID-19 and two had died of the infection. "We collected swab samples from this leopard too, but while releasing the animal, squeeze cage got jammed, killing the animal before we could rescue it," a zoo official said.   

Vandalur Zoo director V Karunapriya said the animal died due to difficulty in breathing. Recently, a four-year-old male lion had also died mysteriously. As per a postmortem report, the lion had died of shock. 

National-level experts to review zoo's management practices

The shock was caused by esophageal rupture and pulmonary hemorrhage. Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj visited the zoo on Tuesday and conducted an inspection following the sudden spike in animal deaths.

"A full review of management practices will be done shortly at the zoo with the help of national-level experts. I have written to the Central Zoo Authority to depute expert veterinarians on consultancy basis. Some shortcomings are observed. Animal healthcare and housing need to be prioritised," he said.

Currently, the zoo is going through a severe financial crunch. In the last two years, gate collection which had been the primary source of income, has drastically come down due to COVID-induced closures. The zoo’s reserve fund was used up for animal feed and administrative expenses.

A proposal for Rs 12 crore was sent to the State government. A senior zoo official told The New Indian Express the regular maintenance of infrastructure has suffered due to paucity of funds. "We have written to the government for help in purchasing feed. We also appeal to the corporate houses to extend support through CSR funding," an official said.



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