In a first, eight Asiatic lions at Hyderabad zoo test positive for COVID-19

The testing done by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) confirmed that the eight big cats -- four males and four females -- are infected with the old variant of COVID-19

Published: 04th May 2021 03:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th May 2021 03:32 PM   |  A+A-

Lions at the Hyderabad Zoo (File photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD: In a worrying development, eight Asiatic lions have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Nehru Zoological Park in the city. The testing done by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) confirmed that the eight big cats -- four males and four females -- are infected with the old variant of COVID-19. This seems to be the first case in the country of lions being found positive for the virus.

The development came a few days after zoo veterinarians noticed mild symptoms, including dry cough, nasal discharge and loss of appetite, among the eight lions. Following this, oropharyngeal swab samples of the feline were taken and sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

Speaking to The New Indian Express, Rakesh Mishra, Director of CCMB, said, “We were told almost a week ago about lions displaying mild symptoms. After we conducted RT-PCR tests, it was confirmed that eight of them are positive. We also did genome sequencing to find out if the strain came from human beings. The report suggests that the virus might have first infected the animals' caregivers and was later transmitted to the lions. We have given medical treatment and instructions to the zoo officials on how to take care of the animals and to make sure other animals don't get infected with the virus. We are in continuous communication with the officials and we have been told that the lions are responding well to the medication.”

He added that directions have been given to shut down all zoos and sanctuaries in the country to curb the virus spread.

When The New Indian Express contacted zoo and forest department officials, they were not available for a response.



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  • Venkataraman Ramesh

    Oh so sad for these poor animals. At least
    1 year ago reply
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