Lions, and tigers, and COVID, oh my!
Six lions and three tigers at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. have tested positive for the coronavirus, The Washington Post reports.
"Six African lions, a Sumatran tiger and two Amur tigers have tested presumptive positive for the virus that causes COVID-19," said zoo officials on Friday. "Last weekend, animal keepers observed decreased appetites, coughing, sneezing, and lethargy in several lions and tigers." The animals' status is being classified as "presumptive positive" while officials await final test results; however, they said they "are certain the big cats are infected and treating them as such," writes the Post.
The source of infection was likely an asymptomatic human, said a zoo spokesperson, although "there is no evidence" to otherwise pinpoint the origin, per the zoo's statement. The zoo said "it has been standard practice for all animal care staff and essential staff to mask indoors in all public and non-public areas."
No other animals are showing signs of infection, the Post reports. Additionally, "given the substantial distance between the animals and visitors, the public is not at risk," assured the Smithsonian.
Zoo officials have plans to soon vaccinate some of their animals using product from Zoetis, a company that spun off from Pfizer. Read more at The Washington Post.