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Eight lions in Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park test positive for SARS-CoV2 virus

An uptick in human-lion conflict typically occurs at the end of a drought

Just as humanity is facing the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, the animal kingdom too struggles against the virus. Eight Asiatic lions housed in Hyderabad zoo who were infected with SARS-COV2 did well to recover and are a lesson for us to fight against the pandemic!

Signs of respiratory distress

With abundant caution on April 24, the Nehru Zoological  Park  (NZP),  Hyderabad shared samples of eight lions housed in the Zoo who had exhibited signs of respiratory distress. These samples were collected from the nose, throat and respiratory tract from the animals under anaesthesia. with  CCMB-LaCONES.

NZP is spread over 380 acres and houses over 2000 animals and is one of the most visited parks in India.

Based on the detailed diagnostic tests and report as shared by CCMB-LaCONES on Tuesday, it has now been confirmed that eight Asiatic lions housed in Nehru Zoological Park (NZP), Hyderabad  have tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus.

On further analyses of the samples it came light that the infection was not caused by any variant of concern.

The eight lions have been isolated and due care and necessary treatment has been provided. The eight lions have responded well to the treatment and are recovering and behaving normally and eating well.

Taking abundant caution, preventive measures have already been put in place for all zoo staff and the zoo has been closed to visitors to avoid minimal external contact.

The Central Zoo Authority has taken several pre-emptive measures including issuance of guidelines and advisories to the zoos towards precautions to be undertaken by zoos in the light of increasing number of cases of SARS CoV-2 .

The monitoring and guidelines for prevention, sample collection, detection in suspected cases, and safety protocols for animal keepers etc have been suggested to zoos in consultation with scientific agencies and experts Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) Uttar Pradesh and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology – Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (CCMB-LaCONES) Hyderabad.

These advisories are available in public domain http://cza.nic.in/news/en .

As part of next steps new guidelines for COVID precautions are being further developed in consultation with experts.

It may be noted that 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.