The infected Asiatic lions at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (AAZP), popularly known as Vandalur zoo in Chennai, have been quarantined and are on antibiotics and other prophylactic drugs.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, who visited the zoo today to take stock of the situation, directed the officials of Environment and Forest department to provide the best treatment to the infected lions as per protocols.
Also, he instructed the authorities to ensure proper vaccination of all animal handlers and officials at the zoo where the first instance of Covid was found among the lions.
MK Stalin, who is also the Chairperson of Zoo Authority of Tamil Nadu, was taken around the enclosures on eco-friendly battery operated vehicle.
Director of the Zoo, Debasis Jana explained to the chief minister about the measures being taken on ground to monitor all animals and that all SOPs and treatment protocols are being followed as advised by Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS).
The zoo authorities informed that seven samples from three lions and four tigers were sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly for detailed analysis.
The samples of all lions are also being analysed through genetic sequencing in the Centre for Cellullar and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad to find the strain of the virus that infected them.
"This analysis is expected to throw better insights into the reasons and possibilities of COVID-19 contraction by animals," the release from the government said.
The park's veterinarian team led by Sridhar explained to MK Stalin the course of treatment being given to the infected lions and also how the health of other animals of the zoo is being monitored.
The officials explained about the measures taken to identify the causes of such infections as the chief minister went around the lion and tiger enclosures and lion safari areas.
The COVID-19 outbreak was reported in the Asiatic lions at the zoo on June 3, when a 9-year-old lioness, Neela, died due to the disease.
Few lions were found symptomatic, an official release from the government said.
Samples from the 11 lions were sent to iCAR-NIHSAD lab in Bhopal for testing. Samples of tigers and other large mammals are also being sent for testing.
Similar incidents of the lions getting infected were reported earlier at the lion enclosures in Hyderabad and Jaipur zoo and from Etawah lion safari in Uttar Pradesh.
As a precautionary measure, the Tamil Nadu government has closed all the zoos to visitors from April 20 this year.