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Lioness dies of Covid in Chennai zoo, 8 lions also test positive for Coronavirus

Representational image: A lioness died at the Chennai zoo due to SARS-CoV2

A nine-year-old lioness died on Thursday due to SARS-CoV2 at the famous Arignar Anna Zoological Park on the outskirts of Chennai while 8 other lions in the zoo have also tested positive for coronavirus.

The Zoo authorities said they have sent a second sample of the lioness for testing to rule out a false positive report.

The lioness, Neela, housed at the Safari area died on Thursday around 6 PM. She was asymptomatic and "showed some nasal discharge the day before and had been treated immediately," according to a press release issued by the zoo authorities.

The samples of 11 lions were sent for testing after five lions housed in the Safari Park area showed symptoms of anorexia (loss of appetite) and occasional coughing after which nasal swab, rectal swab and faecal samples of nine lions were sent to the National Institute of High Security Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal, the authorities said.

Officials said the samples of one pregnant lioness would not be sent now as sedating the animal could lead to a drop in its immunity.

This is the first case of animals testing positive for the virus in Tamil Nadu. Park authorities said they have been scrupulously following precautionary measures including prophylactic measures for the felids, mustelids, viverrids and primates.

Besides vaccination of animal keepers, the statement said, separate set of animal keepers are engaged for each group of lions. Veterinary Doctors, animal keepers and field staff wear PPEs, it added.

Earlier in May, eight Asiatic lions in the Hyderabad Zoo had also tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus.