Hyderabad: Covid-19 symptoms have been noticed among eight Asiatic lions at Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) in what is believed to be the first case of human to animal transmission of the virus across the country.
The samples of the lions were sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) for testing after they developed Covid symptoms.
The CCMB scientists reportedly found the samples to be positive, but this has not yet been confirmed.
The zoo officials said they were waiting for reports from CCMB.
The premier research institute was reportedly carrying out genome sequencing to ascertain if the strain came from human beings or not.
The samples of eight lions including four females were sent for analysis after the zoo staff noticed that they developed symptoms like nasal discharge, cough and loss of appetite.
The veterinarians collected oropharyngeal sawb samples from the big cats and sent them to CCMB.
NZP, one of the major zoos in Asia, has 12 lions in the 40-acre safari. The authorities were taking various measures to contain the spread of virus among other animals.
The zoo was shut down two days ago after the Central Zoo Authority decided to close down all national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves as a precautionary measure to check transmission of the virus from humans to animals.
Following reports of a tiger at a New York Zoo testing positive for Covid-19 in April last year, NZP had sounded an alert.
The animal keepers and veterinary staff were alerted to monitor animals, particularly tiger and primates, for any symptoms of flu.
As part of precautionary measures, thermal scanning of about 150 zoo employees, engaged in taking care of animals, was being dome.
The authorities had been taking several preventive prophylactic measures since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year.
The zoo had reopened in October last year after remaining close for nearly seven months due to the pandemic.
Spread over 300 acres, NZP is home to nearly 181 indigenous and exotic species, including 1,716 animals, birds, and reptiles.
Known as one of the best zoos in Asia, it attracts around 30 lakh visitors annually.