A nine-year-old lioness died of suspected coronavirus infection on Thursday evening at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur near Chennai. Nine more lions at the zoo have tested positive for SARS CoV-2.
Specimens collected from the animals were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases, Bhopal, on May 24 and 29 after some animals showed symptoms, including nasal discharge.
The institute confirmed the virus infection on Thursday morning. As per protocol, any suspected death due to coronavirus in zoos is reconfirmed by the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad. Samples have been sent to these institutes for confir mation.
According to a statement from the zoo authorities, the CCMB, which is the approved virus sequencing centre of the Central Zoo Authority, will carry out genome sequencing of the virus strain for better understanding of zoonotic transmission to prevent the spread of the infection.
A 10-year-old male tiger, suffering from fever and other Covid-like symptoms, died at Ranchi’s Bhagwan Birsa Munda Biological Park on Thursday night, following which doctors at the zoo have sent its nasopharyngeal swabs and blood samples for RT-PCR tests to Bareilly in UP to confirm if it was infected with coronavirus. Shiva, one of the 10 tigers at the zoo, had developed fever on May 31. “Though the fever subsided, Shiva had lost appetite over the course of the next two days. He did not eat at all on Thursday and died later in the night,” zoo vet Dr OP Sahu said.