Leading zoo organizations are collaborating globally following a positive test.
Silver Spring, MD – The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced yesterday that the Bronx Zoo, a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), had reported a tiger has tested positive for COVID-19. AZA and the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) are in close communication regarding this discovery, and Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA, and Robert Hilsenroth, DVM, Executive Director of AAZV, issued the following statement:
“Since COVID-19 first appeared last fall, the world zoological community has been closely following the virus and taking the necessary health precautions to protect the public, their staff, and the animals. There is currently no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 to people.
Nearly all AZA-accredited facilities are currently closed to the public, and dedicated professionals continue to care for all of the animals. The team at the Bronx Zoo are to be commended for recognizing symptoms in their tigers and lions and taking quick action to identify the problem. We are confident the Bronx Zoo is taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and the animals.
Likewise, AZA-accredited members have protocols, procedures, and precautions in place when a disease situation like this arises at a facility. All AZA members were advised in real-time, are acting on the latest information from the veterinary staff at Bronx Zoo, and are consulting their colleagues to identify and implement protective and preventive practices. They all have access to trained veterinary professionals, as well as to the extended AZA and AAZV networks of professionals should a similar situation arise at their facility.
Additionally, all AZA members have been given guidance to:
Consider implementing a higher degree of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for animal care staff who work with any cat species, including wear coveralls, surgical masks, eye protection (e.g., face shields or goggles) and gloves when working in any area where cats are present;
Discourage animal care staff from interacting closely with cats, and instruct them to practice social distancing with cats as much as is feasible;
Limit access to felid housing areas to necessary personnel;
Reinforce the use of footbaths whenever staff enter or leave any cat area; and,
Immediately report anything that is unusual in the health of any of the animals.
The zoological leadership from regional associations around the globe are pooling our collective resources, communicating regularly, and working with health experts to provide the best guidance to our members.”
The announcement and latest information from APHIS is on their website: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/newsroom/news/sa_by_date/sa-2020/ny-zoo-covid-19
Additional information from the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society is available in the WCS newsroom: https://newsroom.wcs.org/
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and 12 other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.