Second lion dies at zoo in India after COVID-19 infections

A male Asiatic lion has succumbed to COVID-19 at a zoo outside Chennai, India this week, making it the second lion this month to die at the facility after being infected with the virus.

Arignar Anna Zoological Park, also known as the Vandalur Zoo, announced the the death June 16 of 12-year-old lion named Pathbanathan, who had tested positive for the virus on June 3.

“The lion was under intensive treatment since then,” the zoo said in a statement.

A male lion died of COVID-19 June 16 at the zoo outside Chennai. Photo: Vandalur Zoo – Arignar Anna Zoological Park/Facebook

A 9-year-old lioness named Neela died at the zoo June 3.

She was also infected with the coronavirus.

A female lion died at the zoo June 3. Photo: Vandalur Zoo – Arignar Anna Zoological Park/Facebook

The zoo hasn’t been open to the public under a government-ordered closure.

It’s not clear how the virus made its way to the lions. The facility has said it has been “scrupulously following” precautionary measures to protect staff and animals. Staff have been vaccinated and also are outfitted in PPE.

But five lions at the facility began feeling unwell, showing symptoms such as loss of appetite and coughing, in May.

Tests were performed on samples from 11 lions, and on May 26, nine samples came back positive for COVID-19.

A treatment regime then began for the lions.

“All the lions which have tested positive are under close observation and on prescribed treatment regimen by the in-house veterinary team in close co – ordination with expert team from TANUVAS,” said in a statement June 4.

India has order the closure of tiger reserves around the country as COVID-19 outbreaks are spreading through zoos.

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