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Chennai: A lioness has died at Vandalur Zoo while eight have undergone tests Covid positive

All the lions which have tested positive are under close observation and on a prescribed treatment regimen by the in-house veterinary team in close co-ordination with the expert team from Tanuvas.

CHENNAI: A nine-year-old lioness Neela has died of COVID-19 and eight other lions have tested positive for the virus at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur.

“The lioness housed at the safari area of the zoological park died on Thursday evening at 6.15 pm. The deceased lioness had been asymptomatic and showed some nasal discharge only the day before and had been symptomatically treated immediately,” said the Zoo press release on Friday.

On May 26, authorities said five lions housed in the safari park area were reported to show anorexia (loss of appetite) and occasional coughing. The in-house veterinary team of the zoo took immediate action to investigate and treat the animals as per protocol.

“On our request, a team of experts was also deputed by Tanuvas to join the veterinarians of the zoo in investigating and deciding the further course of the treatment regimen. Blood samples were sent to Tanuvas and nasal swab, rectal swab and faecal samples of 11 lions were sent to the National Institute of High Security Diseases (NIHSAD) Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, which is one of the four designated institutes authorized to take up SARS CoV-2 testing in captive animals,” officials said.

Officials said as per the laboratory test results furnished by the institute, samples 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 were again colleccted on Friday and sent to the Indian Veterinary Research institute Bareilly and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.

The zoo has been scrupulously following the precautionary measures prescribed in various advisories issued by the Central Zoo Authority, the central and state governments from time to time. Prophylactic measures for felids, mustelids, viverrids and primates, as arrived at in consultation with the expert team of Tanuvas, veterinarians of the Hyderabad Zoo and Bronx Zoo, are being adhered to.

All the lions which have tested positive are under close observation and on a prescribed treatment regimen by the in-house veterinary team in close co-ordination with the expert team from Tanuvas. All animal keepers and helpers for these animal houses have been vaccinated against Covid-19. A separate set of animal keepers has been engaged for each group of lions. PPE kits are mandatory for animal keepers, veterinary doctors and field staff visiting the area, the press release added.

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