Hyderabad | Jagran News Desk: In perhaps what could be a first such case in India, at least eight Asiatic lions housed in Hyderabad's Nehru Zoological Park have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The officials have said that the lions have been isolated and are getting treated accordingly, adding that they are "behaving and eating normally".

"Based on experience with zoo animals elsewhere in the world that have experienced SARS-COV2 positive last year, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further," the Union Environment Ministy said, as reported by news agency ANI.

The officials, however, have expressed concerns that the virus might infect other animals in the park through zoo-keeping staff. They said that they keep sending the samples of the animals to CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology from time to time for analysis.

Asked about how the samples are collected, the officials said that it is collected through the 'squeeze cage' method where the animals are tranquilised and confined in a cage without any space so that it cannot move.

"Now we are developing a method to test the samples of their faeces. This method would be useful in future as every time it is not possible to collect saliva samples from wild animals," CCMB officials Rakesh Mishra was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

Though this is the first such case where animals in a zoo have tested positive, there have numerous reports across the world where dogs, tigers and other animals have found infected. Therefore, the Environment Ministry has issued an advisory to close all zoological parks, national parks, tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries for visitors till further orders to control the spread of the pandemic.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma