Lion Dies Of Suspected COVID-19 In India, One Of Nine To Test Positive


Rachael Funnell

Social Editor and Staff Writer

clockJun 4 2021, 17:31 UTC
Lion Who Died Of Suspected COVID-19 Was One Of Nine To Test Positive

Image credit: Ilya Hrechka/

Cats, dogs and gorillas have joined humans in contracting COVID-19, and now reports from India say that a lion is suspected to have died of the disease. Of 11 lions tested for the disease, the lioness was one of nine to test positive for COVID-19. Named Neela, the nine-year-old passed away at the Valandur Zoo in India.

The keepers at the zoo became aware that something was awry among their lions when they began exhibiting symptoms including a decreased appetite and coughing in the final week of May. They followed up with test samples that later confirmed Neela and eight other lions had been infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


“As per the laboratory test results furnished by the Institute, samples in respect of nine lions out of the 11 sent, have tested positive for SARS CoV-2,” reads a statement from the Valandur Zoo reported in The News Minute. “In order to ascertain whether or not the reported findings are in the nature of false positives or the animal could have died of comorbidities, samples have also been sent on 4.6.2021 to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute Bareilly and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad,”

The outbreak is no doubt a devastating one for the keepers who - according to a report from Forbes - have all been vaccinated and wear personal protective equipment when visiting the animals. It’s not yet clear which variant the animals were infected with.

Domestic and large cats have tested positive for COVID-19 since the disease first began circulating. A number of tigers in Bronx Zoo, New York, were also reported to exhibit coughing as a symptom though none of the animals died.