Coimbatore: Officials said on Wednesday that at least 28 elephants were diagnosed with the coronavirus in a forest reserve in southern India, after a rare Asian lion died of the virus.
According to local media reports, a 9-year-old lioness at the Chennai Zoo in Tamil Nadu, India, died in early June. This is believed to be the first known death of an animal from the coronavirus in India.
According to Chennai’s New India Express report last week, the cat is one of nine lions that have tested positive for the virus, two of which are in critical condition.
A forest ranger in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in southern Tamil Nadu told AFP on Wednesday: “After the lion at the Vandalu Zoo tested positive for COVID-19, we were asked to test the elephant camp. As a preventive measure.”
On Tuesday, nasal and anal samples were taken from 28 elephants, including two calves, and sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Uttar Pradesh.
According to the video shared by the reserve, the animal keepers raised their noses to collect samples from their nostrils. They also inserted the swab into the elephant’s rectum.
The results are expected to arrive within a week.
“These animals do not have any symptoms, this is just as a preventive measure,” the ranger said.
“There is no difficulty in collecting sample swabs by yourself, because these are trained elephants.”
According to local media reports, after a 10-year-old tiger died of fever, about 21 tigers were tested for the virus at a zoo in the eastern state of Jharkhand last week.
According to the Press Trust of India, the tiger’s rapid antigen test result was negative, but officials said they are still waiting for the results of the RT-PCR test.