11 unvaccinated African lions test positive for COVID-19 at the Denver Zoo
DENVER (Gray News) – Nearly a dozen African lions at the Denver Zoo have tested positive for COVID-19.
Zoo officials said 11 lions, ranging in age from 1 to 9, were tested for the virus after their keepers became concerned the lions were lethargic, coughing and sneezing.
According to the Denver Zoo, animal care staff and veterinarians said their symptoms are relatively mild at this point.
They are monitoring the lions closely and treating them individually as needed.
This outbreak comes on the heels of two other tigers at the zoo also testing positive for COVID-19, though there is no indication the two groups of positive cases are connected.
“There have been a number of big cats to come down with COVID-19 at zoos throughout the country, including our two tigers, Yuri and Nikita,” said Brian Aucone, senior vice president for life sciences for the zoo. “Fortunately, the vast majority have fully recovered, and the upside is that there’s an established knowledge base for us to draw from to help treat our animals.”
Aucone said zoo officials have reached out to other zoos that have also recently managed COVID-19 cases in their big cats to share treatment plans.
Zoo officials say they have taken extra measures to safeguard the health of its guests, staff and animals since the beginning of the pandemic. The animal care staff follows strict COVID-19 protocols.
According to the Denver Zoo, none of the lions had been vaccinated against COVID-19, but veterinarians plan to vaccinate them, along with the tigers, as soon as more doses of the animal-specific vaccine become available.
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