The eleven lions had tested COVID-19 positive at a Chennai Zoo, four samples have been identified as "Delta" variants of the virus according to the Genome sequencing.
In two batches, eleven samples from the Chennai zoo lions were sent for testing at the ICAR-National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal. Four samples were send on May 24 and seven samples on May 29. Nine tested positive and it was reported on June 3 and they have been under treatment since then.
According to Director ICAR-NIHSAD “Genome sequencing of four of the samples was done at NIHSAD, Bhopal. Analysis of the sequences shows that all the four sequences belong to Pangolin lineage B.1.617.2 and are Delta variants as per WHO nomenclature.”
In India it first said to be detected in late 2020. On May 11 2021, the WHO classified B.1.617.2 lineage as a variant of concern (VOC).
The Arignar Anna Zoological Park locally known as Vandalur Zoo housed 15 lions out of which two one lion and one lioness passed away due to covid. Eight out of the thirteen lions are covid positive at present. Of them 4 are said to be completely safe, two are asymptomatic, and two are showing occasional lack of appetite owing to age. Temperature checks, eating patterns and food data of 53 different animals are being monitored on a regular basis.
While the mystery of over how the animals got infected the virus remains unsolved, experts and vets advising the Zoo suspect human-animal(man to single lion) transmission followed by animal-animal(lion to multiple lions) transmission. Till now, the only known cases of animal-man transmission are said to be from bats. Animal keepers and feeders said to be worn PPE suits and followed precautions owing to this.
The treatment are being done in consultation with experts from Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS), Veterinarians of Hyderabad Zoo and Bronx Zoo.