Chennai: Around 28 elephants of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. Samples from 26 adults and two calves from the Theppakadu camp have been sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute at Izatnagar in Uttar Pradesh.

"The samples have been sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Uttar Pradesh. All elephants between two and 60 years of age were tested and the results are awaited," said forest ranger, Theppakadu Elephant Camp. The swabs were collected from the elephant's trunk and rectum while they were made to lie down.

This has been done as a precautionary measure after a lioness, aged 9, is suspected to have died from COVID-19 on 3 June at Arignar Anna Zoological Park (Vandalur Zoo) in the outskirts of Chennai. She was one among the nine lions which had tested positive at the zoo. The zoo authorities stated that the lioness had been asymptomatic and only had nasal discharge the day before her death for which she was promptly treated. The remaining lions are under close observation and undergoing treatment.

On 26 May, five lions housed at animal house 1 of the safari park Area of Arignar Anna Zoological Park (AAZP), were reported to show anorexia (loss of appetite) and occasional coughing. The in-house veterinary team of the zoo took immediate action to investigate and treat the animals as per protocol.

Tamil Nadu forest minister K. Ramachnadran also instructed forest officials to collect samples from all elephants in the Theppakadu camp as well as the Kozhikamuthy camp in Top Slip in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve.

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