All of the big cats at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington contracted the coronavirus last week. But now, these lions and tigers are recovering well from COVID-19 infection.
The lions and tigers most likely received COVID-19 from an asymptomatic zookeeper, according to the Zoo’s chief veterinarian, and it spread to the entire big cat population – all nine of them.
The zoo had realized the large animals were sick since the lions and tigers were scarcely moving and weren’t eating well, he said.
“It came on a little bit insidious,” said Dr. Donald Neiffer, the chief veterinarian. “I believe last Thursday we had a single animal who was a little inappetent… but it’s not something that requires us to jump right on it.”
However, he stated within 48 hours other cats began exhibiting signs of lethargy, dry coughs, and sneezing. “That’s when things began getting quite interesting here and we started enacting other biosecurity measures.”
Lions and tigers recovering from COVID-19 after being tested and given various medicines for their symptoms. They should be fine shortly.
“We are seeing an overall trend moving upwards. Based on how they’re behaving today, the majority of them are eating more, moving around more. There’s less discharge and coughing. I would hope that there’s some significant improvement seen in these guys by Monday of next week,” said Neiffer.