Two white tiger cubs probably died of COVID-19 in Pakistan zoo

White tiger at a zoo
White tiger in a zoo, photo: Kar Ming Moo on Unsplash

Two 11-week-old white tiger cubs probably died of COVID-19 in Lahore zoo in Pakistan, officials said. An autopsy found that the lungs of the cubs were badly damaged and they were suffering from a severe infection.

“We had two tiger cubs in the Lahore zoo, who were around three months old. On January 26, they developed diarrhea and also started vomiting. They went off food too. For four days, we treated them for these ailments, but unfortunately, they died on January 30,” Lahore zoo deputy director Kiran Saleem told Reuters.

“According to the report, we have received about their death, they are suspected to have died from COVID-19. However, the symptoms that we had witnessed in them did not point to coronavirus in any way,” Saleem said.

“After their death, the zoo administration conducted tests of all officials, and six were tested positive (for the coronavirus), including one official who handled the cubs,” she continued. “The cubs probably caught the virus from the person handling and feeding them.”

Pakistan’s zoos are regularly criticized by animal rights activists, who say hundreds of animals have died from poor living conditions there.

“In my opinion, the deaths of the tiger cubs happened for the same reason as the deaths of thousands of animals in Lahore zoo and in many other Pakistani zoos till now – because of negligence,” Zufishan Anushay, founder of JFK (Justice for Kiki) Animal Rescue And Shelter, told Reuters.

“White tigers are extremely rare and need a specific habitat and environment to live a healthy life. By caging them in unhygienic conditions with no medical arrangements, we will keep witnessing these incidents,” Anushay said.

COVID-19 is a new virus, and the world is making policies for humans, she said. “It should not forget animals in pet shops, zoos and everywhere else.”

Saleem rejected the allegations of neglect at the zoo, telling Reuters that animal rights activists were welcome to visit and check the facility’s safety and hygiene protocols themselves.

More animal news from Pakistan:
Himalayan brown bears Bubloo and Suzie last to leave Pakistan zoo
Over 30 animals freed from awful conditions in Pakistan zoo
Pakistan investigates horrible deaths of lions at Islamabad zoo
Elvis the donkey dies after a life of suffering in Pakistan
Elephant Kaavan will finally start his new life in Cambodia

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