African lion at zoo recovers from Covid-19; exhibit reopens today

The African lion exhibit at the Singapore Zoo reopens today after being closed for more than two weeks when a lion there tested positive for Covid-19.

In an update yesterday, a Mandai Wildlife Group spokesman said the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) lifted the isolation order on the African lions on Tuesday as the animals no longer showed any symptoms.

On Nov 10, AVS said four Asiatic lions and one African lion at the zoo had been infected with the coronavirus. They had shown mild signs of sickness, including coughing, sneezing and lethargy.

Their condition was discovered after exposure to staff from Mandai Wildlife Group who later tested positive for Covid-19.

The AVS, which comes under the National Parks Board, tested samples from four of the Asiatic lions and one African lion. These came back positive for the virus.

AVS issued an order under the Animals and Birds Act to Mandai Wildlife Group to isolate all nine Asiatic lions and five African lions in their respective dens. They include the five that displayed symptoms.

The Night Safari's Asiatic lions remain in isolation with mild symptoms, said the spokesman.

She said: "All the lions are bright, alert and recovering well.

"The animal care and veterinary teams continue to provide them with the necessary care and ensure they stay well hydrated."

The Asiatic lion exhibit along the tram route at the Night Safari has been closed since Nov 7.

Meanwhile, the infected keepers have fully recovered and are back at work, said the spokesman, and no other species has been observed exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

She said that Mandai Wildlife Group would like to thank members of the public for their concern and get-well wishes "for our lions and animal care staff during this time".

Animals can contract Covid-19, and infections among pet dogs, minks, raccoon dogs and zoo animals such as tigers and lions have been reported in other countries.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there is currently no evidence that animals play a role in the spread of the disease to humans.

The Straits Times reported on Nov 12 that infections in the Singapore Zoo had not dampened ticket bookings to the attraction.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2021, with the headline African lion at zoo recovers from Covid-19; exhibit reopens today. Subscribe