Hyderabad: The city-based Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) has called on veterinary staff, and animal keepers to be on the alert for Covid-19 symptoms in zoo animals, and immediately segregate them if they were found showing signs of having the disease. It also asked the zoo staff to take proper Covid-19 safety precautions.
LaCones, one of the four designated centres in the country for testing animal samples for the Coronavirus, on Monday released guidelines for zoo frontline staff on Covid-19 investigation in captive animals. “The guidelines provide detailed protocols that include pictorials and frequently asked questions for an easier understanding of those collecting samples for COVID testing in wildlife”, said Dr Vinay K. Nandicoori, Director, CSIR-CCMB.
LaCONES said it started testing animal samples for possible SARS-CoV-2 infection in August 2020 with its scientists finding the first positive samples from Asiatic lions in Nehru Zoological Park in the city in April. As part of developing a protocol for collecting samples from animals showing Covid-19 symptoms, the lab tested different kinds of nasal, oropharyngeal, rectal and fecal samples from the animals.
“We hope that our recommendations help zoo staff in collecting and packing the samples appropriately before they are sent for testing. Given how difficult it is to get samples from animals, it is all the more important that we make most of the samples we get,” said Dr Karthikeyan Vasudevan, scientist-in-charge, LaCONES.