The latest in a series of COVID-19 outbreaks in zoos across India, the Indian government has ordered the temporary closure of all tiger reserves to visitors. Following the death of a COVID-positive lioness a few days earlier, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, part of the government’s Environment Department, issued its order on Monday, June 7. The order reportedly indicated that the latest case of COVID-19 infection in a zoo animal indicates the high possibility of transmission of the disease from sick humans to wild animals in captivity. In tiger reserves, a similar transfer could occur. All tiger reserves must close for tourist operations until further notice, according to the directive, to prevent tigers and other wildlife from getting sick.
Environment Department orders all states to close all tiger reserves
There are reports that the current outbreak has occurred at Arignar Anna Zoological Park, better known as Vandalur Zoo, in the southeastern metropolis of Chennai, according to the state government of Tamil Nadu. . In the zoo, a handful of Asiatic lions, an endangered species with a population of just a few hundred, had shown signs of the disease. Neela, a sick 9-year-old lioness, died Thursday. It is not yet known if COVID-19 played a role in the animal’s disappearance. All of the lions were quickly confined and treated with antibiotics by zoo administrators and a team of vets. They got samples from lions, tigers and other large mammals to send in for testing, in hopes genetic sequencing could reveal which strain of the virus infected the lions.
After the incident, authorities said the park strictly adhered to preventative measures outlined in numerous advisories issued by the Central Zoo Authority, central government, and state governments from time to time. Authorities told a press conference that the preventive procedures for felids, mustelids, viverrids and primates, determined in cooperation with the team of experts from TANUVAS, veterinarians from the Hyderabad zoo and the Bronx Zoo veterinarians, are being tracked.
Lioness contracts COVID
The pandemic follows the discovery of eight positive cases among lions at a zoo in Hyderabad in March. Similar outbreaks have been seen in lion enclosures at zoos and safaris in Jaipur and Etawah, according to reports. On April 20, zoos in Tamil Nadu were closed to tourists as a precaution. The news alarmed zoologists, and India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority ordered all tiger reserves in the country to monitor their tigers for symptoms and ensure all animal handlers tested negative for COVID when Word of the Bronx Zoo cases has spread.
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