Lioness dies of COVID-19 after nine of the giant cats tested positive for coronavirus at an Indian zoo

  • Nine-year old Asiatic lion died on Friday after showing symptoms on Thursday 
  • Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai said nine of its lions tested positive
  • The animals have been quarantined and are under observation by expert team
  • Second sample from the dead lion sent to confirm first was not false positive

A lion has died from Covid-19 at an Indian zoo where eight others also tested positive for the virus.

The state-run zoo on the outskirts of the south Indian city of Chennai announced the nine-year-old Asiatic lion’s death on Friday.

‘A 9-year old lioness Neela succumbed to the disease on the evening of 3rd June,’ the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, also known as Vandalur Zoo, said. 

The outbreak was first observed on Thursday when the lioness ‘showed some nasal discharge’. The others appear to have been asymptomatic. 

The affected animals have been quarantined and given antibiotics. They are under observation by the zoo’s veterinary team and an expert team from Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. 

There have been various coronavirus cases reported in animals, including two white tiger cubs thought to have died from the virus in Pakistan. 

Lions have also tested positive in Spain and two other Indian cities, including Hyderabad, where eight lions tested positive last month at Nehru Zoological Park. 

A lion has died from Covid-19 at an Indian zoo where eight others also tested positive for the virus. Pictured: A lion at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park

The affected animals have been quarantined and given antibiotics. They are under observation by the zoo’s veterinary team and an expert team from Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. Pictured: Lions at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park

‘All animal keepers and helpers for these animal houses are vaccinated against COVID-19. A separate set of animal keepers is engaged for each group of lions. PPE kits are mandatory for the animal keepers, veterinary doctors and field staff visiting the area,’ the zoo said. 

‘Samples of tigers and other large mammals are being sent for testing,’ the zoo’s statement added.

Officials added that a sample from the zoo’s only pregnant lioness would not be sent for now as sedating her could weaken her immunity. 

A second sample from the deceased lion has also been sent to rule out a false positive result. 

On Sunday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin visited the zoo to assess the situation. 

Expert teams explained the lions’ care and measures taken to monitor them, according to local media. 

Nine lions at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, also known as Vandalur Zoo, have tested positive for coronavirus

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