SARS-Cov-2 has claimed the life of a lioness and has infected nine other lions at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, popularly known as Vandalur Zoo, located in Chennai.
The Vandalur Zoo in a statement said the lioness Neela died around 6.15 pm on Thursday.
According to the zoo, Neela had been asymptotic and showed some nasal discharge only on Wednesday and had been treated immediately.
Five lions in the Animal House-1 of the Safari Park Area on May 26, reportedly showed loss of appetite and occasional coughing.
Soon the in-house veterinary team took necessary action and blood samples, nasal/rectal swab and faecal samples of 11 lions were sent for testing to the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS), and the National Institute of High Security Diseases, Bhopal.
As per the laboratory test results furnished by the Institute, samples in respect of nine lions out of the 11 sent, have tested positive for SARS CoV-2.
In order to ascertain whether or not the reported findings are in the nature of false positives or the animal could have died of comorbidities, samples have also been sent to the Indian Veterinary Research institute, Bareilly and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, the Vandalur Zoo said.
According to the zoo, all the lions which have tested positive are under close observation and on prescribed treatment regimen by the in-house veterinary team in close co-ordination with expert team from the TANUVAS.
All animal keepers and helpers for these animal houses are vaccinated against Covid-19. Separate set of animal keepers are engaged for each group of lions.
PPE kits are mandatory for the animal keepers, veterinary doctors and field staff visiting the area, the zoo said.