With a constant rise in the number of Covid cases, the Center has decided to provide vaccines to the lions of Sakkarbaug Zoo of Gujarat, developed by ICAR-National Research Center on Equines (NRCE) in Hisar, Haryana.
The decision comes after the animals got infected after coming in contact with the asymptomatic zookeeper and the female tiger of the year, Nadia, and six others tested positive.
The third wave of the Covid-19 epidemic is spreading very fast in the country. No one is safe, let alone in the jungles.
Sakkarbaug Zoo, which is the nodal facility for lion breeding in the country, has more than 70 lions and 50 pangolins. However, the trial will be conducted on only 15 animals. Designed specifically for animals, the vaccine will be given in two doses and with an interval of 28 days between the two. Animals will be observed for about two months after the administration of the second dose.
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.