The COVID-infected Asiatic lions at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (AAZP), popularly known as Vandalur zoo here, have been quarantined and on a regimen of antibiotics and other prophylactic drugs. Chief Minister MK Stalin visited the zoo on Sunday and took stock of the situation. He instructed the authorities to ensure proper vaccination to all animal handlers and officials at the zoo where the first instance of COVID-19 was found among the lions and best treatment to the infected lions as per protocols.
The Chief Minister, who is also the Chairperson of Zoo Authority of Tamil Nadu, was taken around the enclosures on an eco-friendly battery operated vehicle. Director of the Zoo, Debasis Jana explained to the CM the measures taken to monitor all animals and meticulously follow all SOPs and treatment protocols as advised by Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS).
The zoo authorities informed that seven samples of three lions and four tigers were sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly for detailed analysis. The samples of all lions are also being analysed through genetic sequencing in the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, to find the strain of the virus that infected them. “This analysis is expected to throw better insight into the reasons and possibilities of COVID-19 contraction by animals,” said an official release.
The park’s veterinarian team led by Sridhar explained to Stalin the course of the treatment being given to the infected lions and also monitoring the health of other animals of the zoo. The officials explained the measures taken to identify the causes of such infections as the CM went around the lion and tiger enclosures and lion safari areas. The COVID-19 outbreak was reported in the Asiatic lions at the zoo on June 3, when a nine-year-old lioness, Neela, succumbed to the disease. A few lions were found symptomatic.