Smithsonian National Zoo lions and tigers test presumably positive for COVID-19
To combat the 9 lions and tigers showing signs of SARS-CoV-2, zoo officials are keeping a close eye on cats by managing their access to outdoor habitats, providing anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea medications, and more.
Officials at the Smithsonian National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, DC, announced that 6 African lions, 2 Amur tigers and 1 Sumatran tiger had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
According to a statement from the organization, animal keepers began to notice a decrease in appetite, lethargy, sneezing and coughing in several lions and tigers. Staff chose to take stool samples from the 9 animals that tested suspected positive for COVID-19. The final results are expected in the coming days.
To combat the discomfort and decreased appetite, all lions and tigers are currently being treated with anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea medications as well as antibiotics for suspected secondary bacterial pneumonia.
Since the condition does not require the animals to stay outdoors, staff will monitor them closely and regulate the cats’ access to their habitats. Considering the great distance between animals and visitors, the public is not in danger. So far, no other animal in the zoo is showing signs of infection.
The zoo has launched an investigation of all staff who were in the vicinity of the lions and tigers, and according to the statement, “there is no evidence to identify the source of the infection.” Although it is possible that the infection was transmitted by an asymptomatic carrier, it is routine for all animal care and essential personnel to wear masks indoors in all public and non-public spaces. .
Although the United States Department of Agriculture has cleared the use of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine specially designed for zoo animals by Zoetis, the first round of vaccine disbursements will be administered to select animals susceptible to the virus at the Zoo and at the Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia in the coming months when it becomes available. All zoo staff continue to strictly enforce their COVID-19 protocols.
Smithsonian National Institute of Zoo and Conservation Biology. Large cats have tested presumed positive for COVID-19 at the Smithsonian National Zoo. Nationalzoo.si.edu. Posted September 17, 2021. Accessed September 21, 2021. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/news/great-cats-tested-presumptive-positive-for-covid-19-smithsonians-national-zoo