WASHINGTON - Officials at the Smithsonian's National Zoo say six African lions, a Sumatran tiger and two Amur tigers have tested presumptive positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
Animal keepers observed symptoms like decreased appetites, coughing and sneezing in several of the animals last week. Officials say final test results are expected in the next few days.
Male African lion, Luke, at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo (Smithsonian’s National Zoo)
The animals are being treated with anti-inflammatories, anti-nausea medication and with antibiotics and remain under close observation.
"Given the substantial distance between the animals and visitors, the public is not at risk," officials said in a statement released online. "No other animals at the Zoo are showing any signs of infection."
It is not clear how the animals could have contracted COVID-19.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore says within the next few months it will begin giving the COVID-19 vaccine to some of its animals.