Animals

Nika The Tiger At Grand Rapids John Ball Zoo Has COVID-19

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Nika the tiger in Grand Rapids John Ball Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19.

In 2020, about six months into the pandemic, I heard about a tiger in California who tested positive for COVID-19. That same year, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said several deer in the state also tested positive for the virus.

FOX 17 . reported That tiger, Nika is currently recovering. “We continue to take the health and well-being of our team, guests and animals as seriously as we did before and during the COVID pandemic,” said Peter D’Arienzo, CEO of John Ball Zoo. “As with all zoo animals, Nika continues to receive exceptional care from her ranger and veterinary teams and they are cautiously optimistic about her full recovery.”

You might be wondering, how did an animal that is in a cage that people can’t touch or within six feet of get infected with COVID-19? Pretty much the same way that many of us humans do in the workplace, an asymptomatic employee working on an animal care team tested positive and didn’t know the virus was likely to be transmitted to a tiger.

The difficult part of COVID-19 is that some people have no symptoms at all, may have been vaccinated, and can inadvertently carry the virus and pass it on to others.

All employees at John Ball Zoo follow established protocols which are similar to those in physician offices established for humans, except in this case they are working with animals. Use personal protective equipment and constantly maintain the cleanliness and disinfection of places designated for animals. Just as with humans, no matter how hard you try to prevent the spread of the virus, it can still sneak in and infect you.

John Paul Zoo has vaccinated tigers, chimpanzees, lions, snow leopards and small carnivores. Most of the animals have been fully vaccinated while some are still waiting for a second vaccination.

Unfortunately, for the Zika virus, she did not receive her second vaccine and then tested positive on the same day she was supposed to get her second dose.

To be safe, zookeepers are testing other tigers at John Paul Zoo to see if they, too, are positive or have antibodies to the virus.

Keep reading: Watch how animals around the world are responding to COVID-19

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