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Lion at Singapore Zoo tests positive for COVID-19; five lions now infected

Lion at Singapore Zoo tests positive for COVID-19; five lions now infected

An African lion and its cub at the Singapore Zoo. (Photo: Facebook/Mandai Wildlife Reserve)

SINGAPORE: An African lion at the Singapore Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19 after showing signs of illness, the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) said on Wednesday (Nov 10). 

This comes a day after it was announced that four Asiatic lions at the Night Safari had contracted the coronavirus. 

"The faecal sample taken from the African lion at the Singapore Zoo that had shown signs of sickness on Nov 8 has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus via PCR," said AVS.

Nine Asiatic lions at the Night Safari and five African lions at the Singapore Zoo have been isolated, including the five that have COVID-19. 

"All lions are isolated within their respective dens," said AVS.

"We will continue to work with the Mandai Wildlife Group to closely monitor the health of the lions, which includes sampling and testing of their faecal material for the SARS-CoV-2 virus."

AVS noted that according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), there is currently no evidence that animals play a role in the spread of COVID-19 to humans.

However, there have been “sporadic and isolated” reports of animals testing positive for the virus in other countries, after being in close contact with people who are infected with COVID-19.

The four Asiatic lions at the Night Safari tested positive after being exposed to infected employees at the wildlife park.

Mandai Wildlife Group said on Tuesday that three keepers from the Night Safari Carnivore section had tested positive for COVID-19.  

After two keepers tested positive while off-duty, tests were conducted on team members who had been in contact with them. A third employee, who was asymptomatic, subsequently tested positive at work and was stood down from duty.

"They received (a) confirmatory positive PCR test on Nov 8," said Mandai Wildlife Group.

The Asiatic lion exhibit along the tram route at the Night Safari has been closed since Sunday after the four lions showed symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and lethargy, prompting authorities to conduct COVID-19 tests. 

Source: CNA/vc(gs)

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