COVID vaccine for animals: Lions and leopards at Sakkarbaug Zoo will receive a trial dose

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Leopards and lions at Sakkarbaug Zoo to get vaccinated (Representative Pic) | Photo credit: iStock Images

Highlights

  • Vaccine developed by ICAR-National Equine Research Center (NRCE) in Hisar
  • A vaccine has been developed for lions, tigers and leopards
  • Vaccines to be tested on 15 animals of the same species.

Ahmedabad: As the novel coronavirus claimed the lives of two lions in Chennai, the government has now moved to vaccinate the animals. The vaccine developed by ICAR-National Equine Research Center (NRCE) in Hisar, Haryana will undergo clinical trials in six zoos across the country.

The vaccine is designed specifically for animals and will be given in two doses with an interval of 28 days. The animals will be administered for almost two months after the second dose of vaccination. The vaccine was developed for lions, tigers and leopards. The vaccine has yet to gain final approval.

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change asked ICAR-NRCE to develop a vaccine for zoo animals. The ministry also clarified that only zoos that have more than 15 animals of the same species in captivity will be allowed to conduct the trials.

Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh, a nodal facility for lion breeding, is one of six zoos where the trials will be conducted. Sakkarbaug has more than 70 lions and 50 leopards. The trials will be conducted on 15 animals of the same species. Trials to test the effectiveness will be conducted on lions and leopards.

Abhishek Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests and Director of Sakkarbaug Zoo confirmed the news. He said he received communication from the ministry that clinical trials on leopards and lions will be conducted at the zoo. Trials will begin once they receive the green signal from the ministry.

Delhi, Jaipur, Nagpur, Bhopal and Jaipur are the other five zoos that have been chosen for the trials.

Sakkarbaug has not yet received the protocol for administering the experimental vaccine.

The first case where animals contracted novel coronavirus was reported at Bronx Zoo in New York in April 2020. In India, the first case was reported at Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad, where eight Asiatic lions tested positive .

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