The continuous surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in India has left scientists puzzled. While thousands of cases are being reported in the country on daily basis, the news of eight Asiatic lions at the Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) being reported as COVID positive has left many staggered. Possibly, this is for the first time in India when a case of humans infecting animals with the coronavirus has been registered.
As per the sources, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) on April 29 informed the officials of NZP over the phone that the RT-PCR tests of the eight lions were positive.
The officials at Hyderabad’s NZP reportedly decided to test the Asiatic lions for COVID-19 after veterinarians working in the zoo noticed that the big cats were showing the symptoms of the virus, including loss of appetite, nasal discharge and coughing. Around 12 lions in total were tested, out which four males and four female lions were tested positive for the coronavirus.
As of now, the zoo is closed to the public and no outside visitors are being allowed as the number of COVID cases are continuously rising in the country. While it is also being believed that as NZP is located in a densely populated area, the virus, which is also now air-borne, might have infected the lions from people residing in the zoo’s vicinity. It is also possible that the lions might have received the infection from the zoo-keepers or caretakers.
Other zoos & national parks that reported similar cases:
Though these lions infected with coronavirus is believed to be the first of its kind case in India, but similar cases have been reported in other countries where animals were getting infected with the virus. Last year in April, around eight tigers and lions were tested positive at Bronx Zoo in New York.
While in December 2020, four lions at Barcelona Zoo were tested positive for COVID-19 infections. These cases clearly depict that with the increasing number of human to human transmission of the virus, there is a need to protect animals as well as the cases of human to animals is also being reported.