The virus is now spreading to India’s wildlife | Condé Nast Traveller India


An Asiatic lion. Photo: AFP / Stringer / Getty Images

The latest updates from Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park suggest that SARS-CoV2—the virus that causes COVID—seems to be affecting animals too.

While such instances were witnessed in other parts of the globe, lions testing positive in Hyderabad’s zoo—spread over 300 acres and home to over 1500 species of animals and birds—is one of the first such cases in India.

After veterinarians in the zoo began noticing the eight lions around the 40-acre safari area displaying symptoms of the virus, officials from the Nehru Zoological Park tested eight Asiatic lions for the virus. Of the eight lions, four were males, and the other four were female. The results were publicly announced after the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology informed authorities at the zoo.

In early 2020, a Pomeranian in Hong Kong had tested “weak positive” for the virus but did not exhibit any symptoms. The Society for the Protection of Animals in Hong Kong specified then that being infected was not the same as being infectious, and capable of spreading the virus. In April 2020, lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for the virus. All of the animals at the Bronx Zoo made a full recovery. And in September, four lions tested positive at a zoo in Barcelona. Like their counterparts across the globe, they responded well to treatment.

Nehru Zoological Park closed after orders from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Photo: NOAH SEELAM / Contributor / Getty Images

As per the latest update, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has confirmed that the lions are currently under treatment. They have been isolated from the rest of the staff present at the zoo.  The MoEFCC has also stated that based on the zoo animal cases seen last year, there remains no factual evidence that animals can transmit the virus to humans.

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Updated: May 4, 2021 — 2:49 pm

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