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Big Cats Contract Covid-19 at Smithsonian

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: September 20, 2021 12:40 pm

Covid-19 in big cats at Smithsonian

Adult male African lion Luke at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

Photo Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo

The Smithsonian's National have recorded presumptive positive tests for the virus causing Covid-19 in a number of big cats housed at the facility. The affected cats include six African lions, one Sumatran tiger and two Amur tigers.

Over the previous weekend keepers observed a decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing and lethargy in a number of the cats.

To confirm the cause of the illness fecal samples were collected and tested presumptive positive. It is expected that final confirmation will come in the next few days.

Currently the animals are receiving treatment for their symptoms including anti-inflammatories and anti-nausea medication to help with the decreased appetite. They are also being given antibiotics.

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The Smithsonian's National Zoo have strict COVID-19 protocols to help reduce the risk of spread of the disease to animals. These include restricting behind-the-scenes access and requiring the use of personal protective equipment. All are still being strictly followed.

In an attempt to determine the cause all staff who were in close proximity to the lions and tigers were investigated. No evidence was found to pinpoint a source of infection. All staff have been wearing masks in indoor areas.

At present the zoo is awaiting delivery of a SARS-COV-2 vaccine made specifically for zoo animals by Zoetis. The first round is expected in coming months and will be given to animals identified as susceptible at both the zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

Covid-19 in big cats at Smithsonian

Adult female Sumatran tiger, Damai, at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Photo Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo

Learn more about African Lions here – African Lion Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about Tigers here – Tiger Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Smithsonian's National Zoo on their website – Smithsonian's National Zoo

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