In a first, eight Asiatic lions in Hyderabad zoo test COVID positive

The RT-PCR test of the lions was taken up after they showed signs of COVID 19.

Hyderabad: At a point when COVID-19 cases are on the rise due to the second wave, a rare, first-of-its-kind case is reported from Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park.

Eight Asiatic lions tested positive for COVID-19, reports said. This appears to be the first time in the country where animals fell prey to the viral disease.

The lions, lodged in the 380-acre zoo, are said to be recovering.  The RT-PCR test of the lions was taken up after they showed signs of COVID 19.

As per a report by Times of India, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) told the Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) on April 29 that the RT-PCR tests of these lions had come out positive for COVID-19 virus.

NZP curator and director Dr Siddhanand Kukrety did not formally confirm the news.

“It’s true that the lions showed COVID-19 symptoms but I’m yet to receive the RT-PCR reports from the CCMB and hence it will not be proper to comment. The lions are doing well,” said Dr. Kukrety.

Dr Shirish Upadhye, director of the city’s Wildlife Research and Training Centre (WRTC) said,”After Bronx Zoo in New York, where eight tigers and lions tested positive for COVID in April last year, there have been no such reported cases anywhere in wild animals. However, in Hong Kong, the virus was found in dogs and cats.”

On April 24, veterinarians working in the park noticed a lack of appetite, running nose and cough in the lions and advised them to take samples, the report said.

 Officers took samples of the lions and sent them for testing. They later turned out to be positive. Four male and female tested positive for COVID-19 virus.

It has been reported that CCMB scientists will now sequence the genome to determine if the strain came from animals or humans.

NZP was closed to the public two days ago as 25 park staff tested positive for COVID-19 virus.

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