Brookfield Zoo tiger contracts COVID-19
The Chicago Zoological Society announced on October 1 that one of the big cats in its collection has tested positive for COVID-19, the first animal at the Brookfield Zoo known to have contracted the disease.
Malena, an 11-year-old Amur tiger, began showing symptoms of an upper respiratory disease, “including lethargy, coughing and sneezing,” late last week, according to an press release issued by the zoo.
These symptoms were consistent with those exhibited by infected big cats in other zoos, so the Brookfield Zoo submitted samples to the University of Illinois Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the US Department’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories. of Agriculture, who are responsible for monitoring and reporting COVID-19 cases in animals.
An unspecified number of other species of cats at the Brookfield Zoo also exhibited similar symptoms, and the zoo’s veterinary staff submitted additional tests to the lab. The results of those tests are expected next week, but all animals are recovering, the press release said.
Dr Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine at the Chicago Zoological Society, said Malena’s prospects for recovery were good, given the experience of big cats who had contracted COVID-19 in others. zoos.
“Malena is an older tiger and therefore at high risk,” Adkesson said in the press release. “However, she is in good health and her symptoms are relatively minor. We are optimistic that she will make a full recovery.
An unspecified number of other cat species at the Brookfield Zoo also exhibited symptoms of COVID-19, and the zoo’s veterinary staff submitted additional tests to the lab. Those test results are due next week, but all of these animals are “recovering and doing well,” according to the press release.
By September, veterinary staff at the Brookfield Zoo began routine inoculation of some 300 animals in the collection, including Malena, who received a first dose of the Zoetis COVID-19 vaccine on September 16.
“After receiving a dose of the animal vaccine, it is reasonable to expect that Malena’s immune system will be partially primed to fight the virus, and therefore the severity of her illness has decreased,” Adkesson said.
Malena’s battle with COVID-19 comes nine months after undergoing surgery twice in January to treat degenerative hip disease. On January 27, surgeons spent six hours implanting an artificial hip, but it dislodged within a day. Malena spent two additional hours in surgery on January 30 to remove the implant and undergo another procedure.
Brookfield Zoo has closed its Clouded Leopard Rain Forest and Desert’s Edge exhibits until further notice as a precaution, although big cats can still roam freely in their outdoor habitats.