Eight Asiatic lions at the Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) in Hyderabad have been tested positive for Covid-19, according to reports.
The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) told the zoo officials on April 29 that the RT-PCR tests done on these lions had become positive for coronavirus. Following this, the zoo has been closed for the public.
However, the director of NZP Dr Siddhanand Kukrety refused to confirm or deny this news. “It’s true that the lions showed Covid 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,” Dr Kukrety told Times of India.
Symptoms like loss of appetite, nasal discharge, and coughing were first noticed by the zoo veterinarians, who collected swab samples of the lions and sent to CCMB in Hyderabad. It is suspected that the animals contracted the disease from the park staff, who had tested positive for Covid-19.
Eight animals, including three lions and four tigers at the famous Bronx Zoo in New York had showed symptoms of Covid-19 in April last year. Two Amur tigers and three African lions developed a dry cough. But another tiger who tested positive, showed no symptom at all.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the zoo told CNN that the cats were infected by a staff member who was positive but at the time showed no symptoms. All the four zoos managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society were closed down since March.