4 African lions at Utah’s Hogle Zoo test positive for COVID-19 Delta Variant

Oct 25, 2021, 6:21 PM | Updated: 7:46 pm
Four African lions at Utah's Hogle Zoon have test positive for COVID-19 Delta Variant Photo credit:...
Four African lions at Utah's Hogle Zoon have test positive for COVID-19 Delta Variant Photo credit: Utah's Hogle Zoo

SALT LAKE CITY — Four African lions at Utah’s Hogle Zoo have tested positive for the COVID-19 Delta Variant, according to zoo officials.

Zoo officials are not sure how the lions contracted the illness. However, they were tested after showing symptoms of sneezing and coughing. 

Dr. Erika Crook, an associate veterinarian for Utah’s Hogle Zoo, said she and assistant took a nasal swab sample of the four African lions. The samples were sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, and all came back with positive results.

“This is the very first time we have submitted any diagnostic samples of any kind for COVID-19 during the entire pandemic,” Crook said. 

Crook says taking a sample taken from their nose is something the Lions are not used to.

“Lions have never had that done before,” she said. “But they were very, I’m not going to say willing, but they definitely put up with it and they got a food reward.”

Crook says the lions seemed to be more cooperative toward the nasal swab than some of her own family members.

“My own daughters have been swabbed for COVID-19, always negative thankfully,” she said. “But I feel like the lions were possibly more willing than my daughters.”

Despite testing positive,  Crook isn’t concerned about the lions spreading the illness.

“I don’t really have any concerns for our guests coming over to Hogle Zoo,” she said. “I encourage them to come to Hogle Zoo. The lion enclosure is such that most of the viewing is behind glass. And the areas that aren’t glass, there is a mesh. But the public is pretty far away from the lions so I don’t think there is much risk for transmitting from one to another.”

Crook says there is a vaccine for animals. She says it is formulated for animals, so it is different from the vaccine used for humans.

“We are discussing the pros and cons of vaccinating our collection,” she said. 

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