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Two tigers at the Denver Zoo have tested positive for COVID-19.


Two 11-year-old Amur Tigers at the Denver Zoo have tested positive for COVID-19.

The tigers, Yuri and Nikita, were tested after “animal care staff observed coughing, sneezing, lethargy and runny nose in both animals,” the zoo said in a press release. Thursday. “The tigers tested a presumptive positive by fecal and nasal swabs at the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Fort Collins. “

Yuri and Nikita, who appear to be improving right now, are the first animals at the Denver Zoo to test positive for COVID-19. No other zoo animal is currently showing signs of potential infection.

The results of the tiger tests have been confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories of the United States Department of Agriculture.

“We have known for a long time which species at the zoo are susceptible to the virus, and we have taken every precaution to protect all of our animals,” said Brian Aucone, senior vice president of life sciences at the zoo. “While we cannot be sure how Yuri and Nikita became infected with COVID-19, we are fortunate to have an incredible staff with the expertise and experience to recognize their symptoms and provide support. excellent care and treatment. “

Zoo staff follow strict COVID-19 protocols around their animals, including mandatory use of personal protective equipment, hygiene, cleaning, employee self-testing and health management, according to the press release. In 2020, the zoo installed protective barriers around tiger habitat, The Edge, to ensure a safe distance between guests and animals.

None of the tigers had been vaccinated against COVID-19, the statement said. Zoo vets plan to vaccinate them and other big cats as more doses of the animal-specific Zoetis vaccine become available.

There is no risk to zoo visitors due to the distance between guests and animals, according to zoo officials. Daily tiger tours were suspended until Yuri and Nikita made a full recovery.