Eight Asiatic lions have tested positive for Covid-19 at a zoo in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.
Officials said on Wednesday the infected lions were recovering well and analysis of samples revealed the infection was not caused by an Indian variant virus.
“All eight lions have responded well to the treatment and recovering. They are behaving normally and eating well. Preventive measures are already in place for all zoo staff,” the federal ministry of environment, forest and climate change said.
An undisclosed number of the zoo employees have also tested positive in the recent past but the ministry said there was no evidence that animals could transmit the disease to humans.
A zoo official told Zee Media that RT-PCR tests of some of the animals, particularly Asiatic Lions had been carried out as they were looking sick and displaying Covid-like symptoms.
There are more than 1,000 animals of different varieties spread over nearly 400 acres of Hyderabad Zoo. It is presently closed for visitors due to the second wave of the pandemic.
Business Today says that CCMB scientists will also now do genome sequencing to figure out if this strain came from animals or human beings.
This is not the first recorded case of Covid-19 in captive big cats.
Four lions at Barcelona Zoo in Spain tested positive for coronavirus in December.
Three females and one male were tested after displaying mild symptoms. Two staff members also tested positive for the virus.
The Bronx Zoo in the US had the first known case in April 2020 when four tigers and three lions tested positive for coronavirus. They all made a full recovery.
Experts have said that when zoos are open, the risk of infection between big cats and visitors is low because no-one who comes to see them gets close enough.