9 great cats at the National Zoo test presumptive positive for COVID-19

Nine great cats at the Smithsonian National Zoo have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19.
Nine great cats at the Smithsonian National Zoo have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. Photo credit Getty Images
By , KCBS Radio

Nine great cats at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, the Smithsonian Institute announced on Friday.

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Six African lions, a Sumatran tiger and two Amur tigers have been displaying typical symptoms of coronavirus including decreased appetites, coughing, sneezing and lethargy, causing animal keepers to conduct a test of their fecal matter.

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Early results came back "presumptive positive" signifying a marginal trace of the COVID-19 virus while final results of the tests are expected in the next few days. For the time being, all lions and tigers are being treated with anti-inflammatories, anti-nausea medication and antibiotics for pneumonia, officials reported.

"The health and safety of Smithsonian staff, animals and visitors is our number one priority," the Zoo said in a statement. "The Zoo’s existing COVID-19 protocols restrict behind-the-scenes access in all animal areas and require use of personal protective equipment, hygiene, cleaning, employee self-screening and health management."

Despite conducting a thorough investigation, officials have not been able to pinpoint the source of the infection.

A SARS-COV-2 vaccine specifically made for zoo animals by Zoetis was recently authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The first round of the vaccine will be administered to select animals in the coming months.

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