SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 25, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Four of Hogle Zoo’s African Lions have come down with COVID-19, the Delta variant, Zoo officials confirmed Monday.
“After exhibiting symptoms of sneezing and coughing, four out of five African lions were sampled for COVID-19 via nasal swab at Utah’s Hogle Zoo,” the Zoo’s statement says. “The swabs were collected voluntarily through training. Samples were sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) and came back positive for the COVID-19 Delta variant. Zoo officials do not know how lions contracted the virus.”
To protect zoo staff, animals and visitors, protocols have been put into place, the statement says. Existing protocols such as increased personal protective equipment, regulated staff involvement, increased cleaning procedures and staff health monitoring continue to be enforced.
Nancy Carpenter, director of animal health at Hogle Zoo, recommends visitors wear masks, especially when in enclosed areas. The Zoo will continue to monitor and manage specialized animal care dictated by CDC guidelines, and continues to work with many other zoos across the nation experiencing similar animal infections, the statement says.
The lions will remain on display because “there is no known risk to the public,” the Zoo’s statement says. “Designed as an open-air environment to best mimic their natural environment in the wild, this allows for a safe distance to view animals. The main viewing areas are partitioned by glass.”
No other Zoo animals are displaying signs of COVID-19 infection, the statement says.
“We remain extra cautious and vigilant during the pandemic, with a key focus on the safety of staff, guests and animals,” Carpenter said.
“The lions continue to do well and are only showing mild signs,” said Bob Cisneros, Associate Director of Animal Care. “We remain hopeful the infection will resolve and they will recover naturally on their own.”