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Tiger at Sioux Falls zoo contracts COVID-19

October 11, 2021 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A tiger at a Sioux Falls zoo has contracted COVID-19.

KELO-TV reported that officials at the Great Plains Zoo say Keesa tested positive for the virus. Staff noticed Keesa was coughing and acting lethargic during the first week of October. The source of Keesa’s infection is unknown.

Other big cats at the facility, including two tigers and a pair of snow leopards, also have shown COVID-19 symptoms. All the animals are being tested and have been taken off exhibit for care and observation. The zoo’s veterinarian, Louden Wright, said most of the cats are recovering.

Zoo employees wear personal protective equipment when working with animals susceptible to COVID-19, but Wright said someone who was asymptomatic likely passed the disease to the cats.

Other zoos across the country have reported COVID-19 infections in big cats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a vaccine for susceptible animals. Great Plans Zoo officials say when they receive the vaccine their animals will be inoculated.