Second lion dies of Covid at Indian zoo

‘We are currently in a state of grief’

<p>FILE: A lion cub is seen inside an enclosure at the Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden, which takes part in a captive breeding programme for endangered Asiatic lions, in Junagadh, some 320 kilometres from Ahmedabad</p>

FILE: A lion cub is seen inside an enclosure at the Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden, which takes part in a captive breeding programme for endangered Asiatic lions, in Junagadh, some 320 kilometres from Ahmedabad

Days after the death of Neela, a 9-year-old lioness in the southern Indian city of Chennai due to Covid-19, a second lion from the same zoo has also succumbed to the infection.

Patbanathan, the 12-year-old feline, who was being treated for Covid-19 since 3 June, passed away at about 10.15am Indian time on Wednesday, according to a statement from the zoo.

“The samples of the said lion had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 as per the report of the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal communicated on 03.06.2021. The lion was under intensive treatment since then,” the statement noted.

“We are currently in a state of grief. He started rejecting food about five days back and his health started deteriorating rapidly, despite our veterinarians trying all possible ways to recuperate his health in consultation with experts from TANUVAS,” the zoo’s deputy director Naga Sathish Gidijala toldThe New Indian Express.

While the exact source of infection is unknown, zoo authorities noted on Neela’s passing that the chain of infections began on 26 May when five lions in the zoo’s safari area began exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms, including fatigue, loss of appetite and occasional coughing.

Samples from the lions in the zoo were sent to a dedicated lab testing samples from animals for the coronavirus on 29 May, and the results arrived on 3 June, the same day Neela died.

According to the zoo, so far 10 lions have been infected, of whom two have died, and the rest are being treated by an in-house team in coordination with experts from one of the state’s leading veterinary and animal science universities.

Patbanathan’s body was reportedly incinerated following due protocol, after samples from the animal were to sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in the south Indian city of Hyderabad for genome sequencing.

CCMB, one of the dedicated labs in the country that analyses and sequences Covid test samples from animals, would determine which variant of the virus caused the the infection.

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