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India: Lioness dies from COVID in zoo

James Franey
June 4, 2021

A total of nine lions have tested positive for coronavirus at a zoo near Chennai in India. The source of the infection remains unclear.

A lion rests at a zoo in Indian
There have been a handful of cases of lions testing positive for coronavirusImage: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images

A 9-year-old lioness by the name of Neela has died in an Indian zoo from coronavirus, officials at the Arignar Anna zoological park said on Friday.

The state-run zoo, located just outside Chennai, said Neela passed away from COVID-19 on Thursday, while eight other lions also tested positive for the virus.

"Samples of tigers and other large mammals are being sent for testing," the statement added.

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The zoo said five lions started showing loss of appetite and occasional coughing on May 26, which prompted the zookeepers to send samples away for testing from 11 lions in total.

All the other lions who have tested positive are being kept under close observation by staff.

The source of their infection is unclear, although the zoo said that all of its keepers had been vaccinated against coronavirus.

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There have been various coronavirus cases in animals, including two white white tiger cubs thought to have died of COVID-19 in neighboring Pakistan and lions also testing positive in Spain and two other cities of India.

Reuters contributed to this report