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Lions at COVID-Sick Zoo fed ‘tempting’ baby food and chicken broth to increase appetites


Some of the big cats that tested positive for COVID-19 last week at the Washington, DC National Zoo struggled with poor appetites, so zookeepers had to get creative.

“We’ve seen a real decrease in interest in appetite, so this week they’ve done more to stimulate their appetite,” spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson told the Washington Post.

This means baby food, chicken broth, goat milk, goat cheese and elk meat, in an effort to make the food “as tempting as possible,” according to a press release from the zoo. .

Six lions and three tigers tested “presumptive positive” for the virus last week, meaning the lab results came back positive but had yet to be confirmed by a federal lab. This confirmation has still not arrived, but the first results, combined with the cats symptoms including coughing, sneezing and lethargy as well as loss of appetite have left the zoo certain that the animals do have COVID-19. .

Three lionesses at the national zoo.

Smithsonian National Zoo

The tests were performed using faecal samples from lions and tigers, not nasal swabs.

Friday’s zoo statement said the three tigers and three of the lions were doing better and eating normally, but the other three lions – male Shaka and Jumbe, both 7 years old and female Shera, 17 were “older. of concern ”. Shaka and Jumbe were both still lethargic, coughing and having a runny nose and a weak appetite. These three were treated with fluid therapy and various medications.

Additionally, diagnostic blood tests from Shera showed the elderly lion to have kidney failure, although it was not immediately clear whether this was linked to the virus.

The zoo did not know how the animals contracted the coronavirus, but an earlier statement said it could have been transmitted from an asymptomatic staff member.

Lions at COVID-Sick Zoo fed ‘tempting’ baby food and chicken broth to increase appetites
Damai, a female tiger from the National Zoo.

Mehgan Murphy / Smithsonian Institution

Some zoo animals in the United States have started to be vaccinated with the Zoetis vaccine, a vaccine specially designed for animals. The National Zoo plans to vaccinate some of its residents in the coming months, according to the Washington Post.

Various animals in zoos have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including other tigers, otters, gorillas and snow leopards.

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