With the number of Covid cases on the rise, the Center has opted to offer vaccines to the lions of Gujarat’s Sakkarbaug Zoo, which were developed by the ICAR-National Research Center on Equines (NRCE) in Hisar.
The animals became infected after coming into contact with an asymptomatic zookeeper. Nadia, the female tiger of the year, and six other animals tested positive.
The third wave of the Covid-19 outbreak is rapidly spreading across the country. Even in the jungles, no one is safe.
Sakkarbaug Zoo has more than 70 lions and 50 pangolins and is the country’s nodal facility for lion breeding. The trial, however, will only involve 15 animals. The vaccine, which is designed specifically for animals, will be given in two doses separated by 28 days. Following the administration of the second dose, the animals will be monitored for about two months.
The Deputy Forest Conservator, who is also the director of Sakkarbaug Zoo, said, “We have received a message from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) that the zoo will be the centre for clinical trials. On lions and leopards. The trial will begin after the ministry gets final approval.”
Officials said the ministry had directed ICAR-NRCE, Hisar to develop vaccines for lions, tigers and cheetahs at the zoo. After the vaccine was developed, the Hisar facility applied to the MoEFCC for a clinical trial of an inactive SARS-CoV-2 vaccine developed for lions, tigers and leopards.
Meanwhile, the Sakkarbaug Zoo has not yet received approval for giving the experimental vaccine. “It is clear that captive animals will be vaccinated. Under no circumstances will it be given to large cats in the wild. However, if a captured wild cat shows symptoms of Covid, it can be vaccinated once it is approved, “officials said.