Lions and tigers have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 at the National Zoo in Washington DC, in the United States.
Final testing results are expected within days.
Six African lions, a Sumatran tiger and two Amur tigers are being treated for COVID-19.
The National Zoo said in a statement that all the big cats are currently being given medication and are under close observation.
They said that zookeepers had noticed that the animals were eating less, that they were coughing and sneezing, and that they were generally lethargic.
They took faecal samples from all of the big cats to test them for COVID-19, which came back presumptive positive but final results are expected in the next few days.
The big cats are currently being given anti-inflammatories and antinausea medication “to address discomfort and decreased appetite”.
They are also all being given antibiotics to treat a presumptive secondary bacterial pneumonia.
The zoo said that the public were not at risk because the animals were kept a significant distance from them. They added that other animals at the zoo are not currently known to be infected.
The zoo say they have investigated how the animals might have become infected but after thoroughly investigating their staff, they said that there is “no evidence to pinpoint the source of the infection”.
The US Department of Agriculture has authorised a vaccine against COVID-19 that has been designed specifically for zoo animals. It was made by Zoetis, an American drug company that makes vaccines for pets and other animals.
It is expected to be rolled out soon, when it will be administered to selected animals.
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Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: James King, Agency: Newsflash
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