Lions at Utah’s Hogle Zoo infected with COVID-19

Oct 25, 2021, 2:42 PM | Updated: 3:24 pm
Four of the five African lions at Hogle Zoo in Utah have tested positive for COVID-19, delta varian...
Four of the five African lions at Hogle Zoo in Utah have tested positive for COVID-19, delta variant. (Courtesy: Hogle Zoo)
(Courtesy: Hogle Zoo)

Sneezing and coughing lions at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City led to a check — via nasal swab — that confirmed four out of five of the captive African lions have COVID-19. They tested positive for the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Cats have long been known to contract the disease, though the zoo said in a statement that prior to the discovery of the infection, there was a stringent animal care COVID-19 safety plan established.

“Zoo officials do not know how lions contracted the virus,” a press release stated.

“UHZ (Utah’s Hogle Zoo) follows guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, Utah Department of Health, and the Salt Lake County Health Departments,” Dr. Nancy Carpenter, Director of Animal Health for the zoo said.

The zoo recommends visitors wear masks, specifically in enclosed portions of the zoo. The animals will continue to be monitored and receive specialized care dictated by guidelines from the Center of Disease Control. Zoos across the U.S. have cooperated on ways to best handle similar infections.

The lions will remain on exhibit since there is no known risk to the public. They stay in an open-air environment to best mimic their natural wild environment. That allows a safe distance to view animals according to the zoo. It will continue to monitor other animals for symptoms and the lions for more serious symptoms.

“The lions continue to do well and are only showing mild signs. We remain hopeful the infection will resolve and they will recover naturally on their own” Bob Cisneros, Associate Director of Animal Care said.

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Lions at Utah’s Hogle Zoo infected with COVID-19