Atleast eight Asiatic lions at Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) in Hyderabad tested positive for coronavirus, which is presumably the first reported case for a feline in India. The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) told the forest authorities that the RT-PCR tests of these animals were taken and were found positive, according to the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change. However, it has been told that it would take a few more days for its confirmation.

The CCMB would carry out a thorough diagnosis of the samples to confirm if the lions were infected by humans and what strain of the virus were they infected by. Scientists urged the officials to take medications and start taking precautions at the earliest. The zoo authorities might carry out a CT Scan of the infected animals to know the intensity and impact of the infection on their lungs, reported The Hindu.

Also read | With giant swabs and grumpy camels, Kenya hunts for next deadly virus

“Yes, the lions were tested after displaying mild symptoms. As of now they are active and are doing well”, said an officer, adding that four male and four female Asiatic lions were housed in the Safari of 40-acre.

Although sources suggest that the lions tested positive, the curator and director of NZP Dr Siddhanand Kukrety denied the claims. “It’s true that the lions showed COVID symptoms but I’m yet to receive the RT-PCR reports from the CCMB and hence it will not be proper to comment. The lions are doing well”, said Dr Kukrety, reported the Times of India.

Director of city’s Wildlife Research & Training Centre (WRTC) Dr Shirish Upadhye said, “After Bronx Zoo in New York, where eight tigers and lions tested positive for COVID in April last year, there have been no such reported cases anywhere in wild animals. However, in Hong Kong, the virus was found in dogs and cats”.