New Delhi: A tigress has died in Delhi Zoo due to "acute renal failure" and old age-related health problems, and its samples were sent for coronavirus testing as the authorities feared the death might have been due to the infection.
However, the samples have tested negative, officials said.
The 13-year-old big cat named Kalpana died on Wednesday evening and the carcass was cremated on Thursday following directions to minimise human-animal interface, an official from the Environment Ministry said.
The tigress had grown frail. Post-mortem revealed high creatinine levels, the official said on Friday.
"Only a few officials were present during cremation of the tiger carcass, which was done in accordance with guidelines issued in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak," he said, adding, "Samples were sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, for coronavirus testing. The reports are negative."
Former member secretary of Central Zoo Authority (CZA) D N Singh on Friday alleged lapses on the part of the zoo authorities.
"The tigress seems to have died due to dehydration. A senior veterinary officer from Jabalpur had advised the zoo officials to administer saline through rectum, as it is easier to absorb in the body this way, but the zoo staff did not do that," Singh alleged.
"Also, no senior official was present when the animal was being cremated, which is in violation of the rules," he said.
In September last year, an eight-year-old tiger, Rama, had died of kidney failure in Delhi zoo. A blood report had stated that very high phosphorus content and creatinine levels impacted the functioning of the animal's kidneys.
Earlier this month, the Environment Ministry and National Tiger Conservation Authority had issued strict guidelines to minimize human-animal interface after a tiger in the Bronx Zoo, in the US, contracted coronavirus from an infected caretaker.
The CZA has also asked zoos across the country to remain on "highest" alert and collect samples fortnightly in suspected cases.
The samples can be sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Disease in Bhopal, the National Research Centre on Equines in Haryana's Hisar and the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh.