At least 8 Asiatic Lions at the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad have contracted the SARS-COV2 disease, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change said on Tuesday.
According to the Ministry, the infected felines suffered respiratory distress. They have been isolated and are responding well to treatment. The virus variants found on them are of no concern to humans and have no evidence of transmission from animals. Hence, the government has urged the media to remain vigilant while reporting and provide responsible coverage on this matter.
The Centre further said that the lions are behaving normally and eating well. The Central Zoo Authority has taken preventive measures to remove the possibility of more infections. The zoo has been closed down to avoid minimal external contact with the staff and other outsiders.
Based on 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, the release said.
The Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad has a total of 12 lions. Out of which eight have been found positive for the virus from the samples collected from nose, throat, and respiratory tract under anaesthesia. As per reports, the lions were found coughing, having nasal discharge, and a loss of appetite. The zoo officials, when they noticed the symptoms, decided to get the lions tested for a coronavirus test.
Based on the Centre’s order to close all zoological parks, national parks, tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries for visitors, it was decided that the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad, Amrabad Tiger Reserves and all National and Wildlife Sanctuaries and the Kakatiya Zoological Park in Warangal, Kawal in the state of Telangana be shut as a precautionary measure to prevent spread of virus among wildlife.