TAMPA, Fla. - Two Malayan tigers at ZooTampa have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement released by the zoo on Thursday. The 16-year-old and 7-year-old tigers were tested for the virus after showing mild respiratory symptoms.
Nasal swabs and fecal samples of the animals were sent out following approval by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
"The Zoo’s animal care team works rigorously with many of the animals to allow our medical team to conduct tests such as the nasal swab required for testing with the voluntary participation of the animal," stated Senior Vice President of Animal Health, Conservation and Education Dr. Cynthia Stringfield.
ZooTampa reported the diagnosis to the US Department of Agriculture and says it has a comprehensive COVID prevention plan for all mammals which requires vaccination and use of personal protective equipment by animal care staff.
"At this point, we are unsure how the vaccinated animals got the virus, but we have seen instances around the world where the virus has been transmitted from humans to big cats and primates even with strict biosecurity protocols in place," Stringfield said.
The zoo says the tigers, who are being treated and monitored around the clock, will remain off of public viewing and in their night quarters until further notice.
"We are always monitoring susceptible species and will continue to review our protocols which follow the latest scientific data and government recommendations," added Stringfield. "The safety of our team, the animals entrusted to our care and guests remains our number one priority."
The zoo says it will test its orangutans out of an abundance of caution.