AKRON, Ohio — The Akron Zoo announced Thursday its five African lions presumptively tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The care team said some of the lions — which include males Tamarr and Donovan and females Mandisa, Kataba and Msinga — showed symptoms like mild coughing, sneezing and decreased appetite.
"After the onset of symptoms, fecal samples were collected and sent to the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, where the lions tested presumptive positive. The positive samples will now be sent to a National Veterinary Services Lab for further testing," zoo officials wrote in a press release.
Out of caution, the Akron Zoo also sent samples for all large animals to test for COVID-19. They came back negative, and zoo officials said they will continue to monitor them.
The lions will remain in their habitat in the zoo’s Pride of Africa area, and officials said they don't pose a risk of transferring the virus to humans.
"Exposure is believed to be from a staff member who later tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the zoo will be further enhancing PPE in animal care areas," the zoo said.
The Akron Zoo recently received the Zoetis COVID-19 vaccine — a vaccine made special for animals. Zoo officials said they plan to vaccine the lions upon their recovery. The vaccine has been authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Ohio state veterinarian.