SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – It has been nearly three weeks since Utah’s Hogle Zoo revealed all but one of its African lions had tested positive for COVID-19 after exhibiting symptoms like sneezing and coughing.
A spokesperson for the Hogle Zoo tells ABC4 those lions are still testing positive. While this does not mean the lions are experiencing infectious viruses, it does show they are still shedding the virus.
In late October, when the lions were tested, samples sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory came back positive for the COVID-19 Delta variant. Zoo officials say they do not know how the lions contracted the virus.
So far, the zoo reports the lions are “feeling fine” with an occasional sneeze.
The Hogle Zoo spoke with ABC4 in July and confirmed it had no plans to vaccinate its animals against COVID-19 despite others doing it nationwide. Dr. Nancy Carpenter, Director of Animal Health, told ABC4 then that, “Due to the efforts of the animal care staff at the zoo, the veterinarians feel that our animals are at a low risk to contract this virus.”
Now, a zoo spokesperson says they are discussing vaccinating some of the zoo collection. The process is still in the planning stages as the zoo works with state veterinarians and officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Shortly before the Hogle Zoo confirmed its lions had tested positive for COVID-19, the Denver Zoo announced 11 of its African lions have tested positive for COVID-19. ABC4 affiliate KDVR reports the Denver Zoo is hoping to vaccinate its lions and tigers as doses of the animal-specific Zoetis vaccine become available.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with clearer information regarding the Hogle Zoo’s ongoing review of possibly vaccinating its animals and the condition of the lions.