Lioness with Covid-19 at Dehiwala zoo | Sunday Observer

Lioness with Covid-19 at Dehiwala zoo

27 June, 2021
A lion at the Dehiwala Zoo (File Photo)
A lion at the Dehiwala Zoo (File Photo)

A lioness at the National Zoological Garden Dehiwala has tested positive with Covid-19 the second such animal to be infected with the virus in a week, officials said yesterday.

Sheena, the 12-year-old lioness shared the enclosure with Thor, a lion who was tested positive earlier.

Thor was confirmed with Covid-19 on June 18 and the Zoo officials said last week the animal was weak but recovering.

The tests on the lion were carried out since he showed breathing difficulty, a throat ailment and was refusing food but the initial Rapid Antigen test proved negative.

However, later due to its deteriorating condition several PCR tests were carried out on Thor and they confirmed that he had contracted the virus.

Sheena was also tested along with the male lion the previous week but her results were negative. The lions reportedly, were not anaesthised before the PCRs were performed. They were lured to a smaller cage before the samples were collected.

The eleven-year-old Thor was brought to the Dehiwala Zoo from South Korea's Zoo in 2013.

The Zoological Gardens Director General Ishini Wickremasinghe said that they were in touch with the Central Zoo Authority in India and following their guidelines to treat the infected lions.

Earlier on the deaths of a Pigmi Hippo and a Zebra were reported at the Zoo but the officials said their deaths were not related to Covid-19.

The Hippo's death was related to a bacterial infection while the Zebra had died due to an intestinal blockade.

She said they were following health guidelines to prevent a spread among the keepers and the other animals in the zoo. Thor was quarantined after the test results to ensure other animals would not be infected.

However, the Veterinary Surgeons Association blamed Zoo officials for negligence saying the lions may have contracted the virus from the keepers maintaining the cage.

SLVSA President Erandika Gunawardena told the media that Investigations have revealed that Covid-19 could spread from humans to animals, this is not the first case.

She said several tigers at a New York zoo (Bronx Zoo) were tested positive and it was believed the Tigers contracted the virus from a human.

The Bronx Zoo authorities said they suspected the big cats got the virus from an asymptomatic Zoo keeper.)

Earlier Gorillas from San Diego Zoo and eight Asiatic lions at Hyderabad Zoo also tested positive for Covid-19.

Director, Animal Production and Health Department, Dr. Hemali Kothalawala said there were no reports of people contracting the virus from animals. The Zoo officials were also checking if the virus had spread from droppings of other animals in the zoo.

The two lions are currently being cared for by the veterinary surgeons and doctors who are specialised in Covid-19 treatment.