Tamil Nadu

Chennai zoo loses another lion to COVID-19

The Arignar Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur, Chennai. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A 12-year-old male lion, named Pathbanathan, housed in the Lion Safari area of the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, died due to COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Pathbanathan is the second big cat to have died at Vandalur zoo this month. On June 3, Neela, a 9-year-old lioness, died of the disease.

A release from the zoo said the lion tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, as per the report of the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal, on June 3. It had been undergoing intensive treatment since then. “It had not eaten for the past five days,” a source said.

The zoo administration is in a state of shock after the death of the second lion. Of the 13 lions at the zoo, two were responding slowly to treatment, sources said.

A forest official said the death of two lions and the critical condition of two more showed the health management of the zoo in poor light. “We are the only zoo in India that has lost two lions,” the official said. Though eight lions at a Hyderabad zoo tested positive for the infection, all of them recovered. A lion in Jaipur also contracted the infection.

According to a senior officer, the zoo’s veterinarians were treating infected lions symptomatically, in consultation with their counterparts in the Bronx, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Etawah Lion Safari and the Central Zoo Authority, along with a team of experts from Tanuvas. “They are trying their best,” the officer said.

A total of 9 lions had tested positive on June 3 after their samples were sent to NIHSAD.

After the death of Neela, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin and Forest Minister K. Ramachandran visited the zoo to enquire about the condition of the lions and the treatment given to them.

The zoo administration had sent the samples of three lions and four tigers to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly, to test for SARS-CoV-2. Of them, two lionesses, including Neela, had tested positive for the virus. Incidentally, the authorities also found that two lion samples tested mildly positive for canine distemper virus.

The report from IVRI was supposed to shed light on the source of the infection in the Asiatic lions housed at Vandalur zoo. The zoo authorities are yet to comment on the source of the infection.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 11:16:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-zoo-loses-another-lion-to-virus/article34835272.ece

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