Though reports said the lions tested positive, zoo authorities say that the result of the samples are still awaited.

A representative image of an Asiatic LionImage for representation/WikiCommons/Vanisri
Coronavirus Coronavirus Tuesday, May 04, 2021 - 13:26

News reports about eight Asiatic Lions at Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park testing positive for coronavirus has spread considerable fear among the public, especially pet owners. Though media reports indicated that the lions had tested positive, officials told TNM that the results of the COVID-19 RT-PCR test are still awaited.

Speaking to TNM, Nehru Zoological Park’s Public Relations Officer Haneef said, “The samples of the RT-PCR test have been sent for testing to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB). We’re yet to receive the results of the same.”

TNM also reached out to Rakesh Mishra, CCMB Director, who said, “I’m yet to take a look at the reports. I can comment on the results only after that."

According to sources, the zoo veterinarians noticed the lions showing COVID-19 like symptoms in the last week of April. The Nehru Zoological Park has a total of 12 lions. Eight among these were found coughing and had nasal discharge along with loss of appetite. Following the observation, the zoo authorities decided to get the lions tested for coronavirus.

Oropharyngeal samples of the lions were collected and sent to CCMB for testing. If the lions turn out to be positive, it is expected that genome sequencing will be done by CCMB to find out if the strain of the virus is transmitted from human beings.

On May 1, it was announced that the Nehru Zoological Park would be closed for visitors from May 2 until further orders. The circular issued by the state’s Chief Wildlife Warden said, “In view of the rapid spread of SARS Cov-2 in the country, the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change, New Delhi has issued an advisory to close all Zoological Parks, National Parks, Tiger Reserves and Wildlife Sanctuaries for visitors till further orders to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Based on the orders, it was decided that the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad, the Kakatiya Zoological Park in Warangal, the Kawal and Amrabad Tiger Reserves, and all national and wildlife sanctuaries in Telangana would be shut as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of virus among wildlife.

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