The Indian government has ordered the temporary closure of all tiger reserves to tourism after COVID-19 outbreaks in zoos around the country.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority issued its order after the death of a coronavirus-positive lioness.
The latest outbreak took place at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai, the Tamil Nadu state government said in a news release.
A number of Asiatic lions, an endangered species, had shown symptoms of the disease in the zoo. A symptomatic 9-year-old lioness named Neela died last Thursday. It remains unclear whether COVID-19 was the direct cause of the animal’s death.
Zoo officials and a team of vets immediately quarantined all the lions and started treating them with antibiotics.
They have taken samples from the lions, tigers, and other large mammals to send for testing, hoping that genetic sequencing can reveal which strain of the virus infected the lions.
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