Two Tigers at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo Test Positive for COVID-19

"The safety of the zoo animals and our team members are our first priority right now," the Indiana zoo's director, Rick Schuiteman, said of Bugara and Indah's diagnosis

Sumatran tiger
Photo: Getty

Two Sumatran tigers at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo tested positive for COVID-19, the Indiana Zoo confirmed in a release on Friday.

According to the zoo, on Feb. 1 keepers noticed one of the tigers was "showing mild symptoms consistent with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19." After the symptoms were reported, fecal samples were collected from the two tigers living at the zoo, Bugara and Indah, and tested for COVID-19. On Friday, the test results came back positive for both tigers.

"Bugara, the male Sumatran tiger, has been experiencing a dry cough, and Indah, the female Sumatran tiger, has not shown symptoms at this time" Dr. Kami Fox, a staff veterinarian at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, said in a statement."Both tigers are being watched for any additional clinical signs and remain together in their enclosure."

The zoo added in their release that the source of the tigers' infection is not yet known, but that they are working with "the Allen County Department of Health and the State Board of Animal Health to identify potential sources."

While the zoo works to learn more, they are taking extra precautions — in addition to the guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the recommendations provided by the AZA Species Survival Plan — to protect Bugara and Indah, and the keepers that care for them, including limited access to the tiger area, increased PPE for tiger keepers and daily fecal sample collection from the tigers for further testing.

"The safety of the zoo animals and our team members are our first priority right now," the zoo's director, Rick Schuiteman, said in a statement. "We will continue to tirelessly protect our team and the animals that call this Zoo home."

The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is not the first zoo to deal with a positive COVID case among its animals. Several Bronx Zoo tigers and lions tested positive in April 2020; all of the big cats have since recovered. Additionally, a gorilla troop at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is currently on the mend after testing positive for COVID-19 in January of this year.

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