Eight Asiatic lions housed in Nehru Zoological Park (NZP), Hyderabad have tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus, causing respiratory distress in them. The lions have been isolated and are responding well to treatment and recovering, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change said on Tuesday.
"On the 24th April 2021 with an abundance of caution, Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad, shared samples (as collected from nose, throat, and respiratory tract under anaesthesia)...for eight Asiatic lions housed in the Zoo that had showed signs of respiratory distress," a statement issued by the ministry said.
"Based on detailed diagnostic tests...it has now been confirmed that the eight Asiatic lions...have tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus," it added.
The analyses of samples further revealed that the infection was not caused by any variant of concern to human beings.
The lions are behaving normally and eating well. Preventive measures are already in place for all staff, with the zoo being closed down to avoid minimal external contact, the Centre has said.
The Central Zoo Authority has taken pre-emptive measures and issued guidelines and advisories to zoos in light of the increasing number of cases of SARS CoV-2.
"Based on experience with zoo animals elsewhere in the world that have experienced SARS-CoV2 positive last year, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further," the release said.
"Media is, therefore, requested to exercise extreme caution while reporting and provide a responsible coverage for the same," it added.