Tamil Nadu’s Vandalur Zoo Loses One More Lion to COVID

Just two weeks after the zoo lost its first lion, Neela, to COVID, on 16 May, it lost one more lion to the virus.

2 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>With eleven of its lions testing positive for coronavirus, Tamil Nadu’s Arignar Anna Zoological Park has turned into a COVID animal cluster.</p></div>

On Wednesday, 16 June, Arignar Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur, Chennai lost one more lion to coronavirus. A 12-year-old lion named Pathbanathan housed in the lion safari park area of the zoo passed away at 10.15 AM on this day.

The samples of the lion had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 as per the report of the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal, the Zoo said in a press release.

The release added that NIHSAD communicated the lion’s test results on 3 June. Since then, the lion was under intensive treatment, the report read.

Just a couple of weeks ago, on 3 June, the zoo lost its first animal to COVID, after Neela, a 9-year-old lion passed away.


Zoo Yet To Determine Cause of Virus Spread

So far, a total of 11 lions have tested positive for the virus. And two among them have passed away. But, the zoo officials, are yet to ascertain how the lions got affected.

The officials have, however, said it could have happened through the animal keepers or the feed provided to the lions.

Following the passing away of Neela, who neither had any comorbid conditions nor any other health issues, the zoo officials had said they were shocked as to how such a young and healthy lion passed away.

How Are Affected Lions Being Treated?

Zoo officials have said that all the affected lions are quarantined and are given proper treatment as prescribed by Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) and experts from Central Zoo Authority, Hyderabad, Jaipur, and Bronx Zoo, New York, that have previously had cases of lions testing COVID-19 positive.

All the lions that tested positive for coronavirus are quarantined. The in-house veterinary team and experts from TANUVAS are closely monitoring and providing them prescribed treatment regimen, officials said.

They said that separate set of animal keepers are engaged for each group of lions. PPE kits have been made mandatory for all animal keepers, veterinary doctors, and field staff visiting the lions.

“Besides, we have also asked the doctors to boost the immunity of the affected animals by providing them appropriate multivitamins.”

The samples of all lions, including that of Neela have been sent to Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad for genome sequencing. CCMB is an approved animal SARS-CoV-2 sequencing centre for testing the strain of the virus that infected the lions.


The analysis by CCMB and IVRI, officials said will throw better insights into how the animals got infected. It will also help us in providing appropriate treatment, they said.

The officials had also sent samples of seven animals (three lions and three tigers) for COVID testing at Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Bareilly. Of the seven, two lions including lioness Neela tested positive for the virus, while one lion was positive for the distemper virus. All three tigers tested negative for both the viruses, the IVRI report read.

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