A few of the lions were found symptomatic
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin visited Arignar Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur near Chennai on Sunday to take stock of the incidence of COVID-19 infection among Asiatic lions at the zoo. He also reviewed the treatment being given to infected lions and took stock of the medical intervention being administered by the in-house vets under the guidance of the TANUVAS team of doctors.
The COVID-19 outbreak was reported amongst the Asiatic lions at the zoo on June 3. A few of the lions were found symptomatic and one of them, a nine-year-old lioness Neela died due to the disease on June 3. Similar incidents have been reported in lion enclosures in Hyderabad, Jaipur zoo and Etawah lion safari.
Soon after the outbreak, “officials have immediately quarantined all the Asiatic lions and with the help of vets and, under the supervision of the senior vets of Tamil Nadu Veterinary University, treatments have been started with antibiotics and other prophylactic drugs. Samples from the 11 Asiatic lions were sent to the iCAR-NIHSAD lab (ICMR-approved), Bhopal for tests and further samples of tigers and other large mammals are also being sent for testing,” an official release said.
The CM, who is also the Chairperson of Zoo Authority of Tamil Nadu, instructed senior officials to take all measures to provide the best treatment to infected lions as per the protocols, an official release said. He also instructed the authorities to ensure that proper vaccination is administered to all animal handlers and zoo officials.
Mr. Stalin was escorted around the enclosures through the eco-friendly battery-operated vehicle, where first instance of COVID-19 was found in lions. A total of seven samples (three lions and four tigers) have been sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly for detailed analysis.
The samples of all lions are also being analysed through genetic sequencing in the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad to find the strain of the virus that has infected the lions. “This analysis is expected to throw better insights into the reasons and possibilities of COVID-19 contraction by animals,” it said.
Rural Industries T.M. Anbarasan, Kancheepuram MP G. Selvam, Chengalpattu MLA M. Varalakshmi, Environment and Forests Secretary Supriya Sahu, PCCF Yuvaraj, and HOD, PCCF and Chief Wildlife Warden S.M. Abbas, Special Secretary Shekhar Kumar Neeraj, Zoo Director Debasis Jana, Deputy Director Thiru. Naga Sathish and senior officials were also present.
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