National Zoo

Some Great Cats at National Zoo Recover from COVID-19, Test Negative

All tigers and lions are improving and eating.

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The National Zoo's great cats continue to recover from COVID-19, including three lions of most concern. According to fecal samples, two tigers and one lion, who had previously tested positive for the virus, have tested negative.

The rest of the big cats are tested weekly to determine when they have overcome the virus. National Zoo believes it may take the cats more than 30 days, from the time the zoo keepers first noticed the ill symptoms, to recover.

Currently all six lions and two tigers continue to be treated for discomfort and/or nausea as needed.  

National Zoo staff had been closely monitoring the health of three lions that demonstrated a severe lack of appetite, dehydration and abnormal respiration after testing positive for COVID-19.

Due to increased worries over their health, the zoo staff had anesthetized Shera, an old female lion, and Shaka and Jumbe, two adult males, for fluid therapy and administration of antibiotics. Staff also collected blood samples.

To combat the big cats' decreased appetite, the National Zoo has been adding specialty items to their diets such as, goat milk, goat cheese, chicken broth, baby food and elk meat, in order to stimulate eating.

The zoo said its COVID-19 safety and response protocols continue to be in place and strictly followed.

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