Amur tiger at John Ball Zoo tests positive for COVID-19

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The John Ball Zoo says one of its Amur tigers has tested positive for COVID-19.

Nika, a 16-year-old female Amur tiger, recently became ill and tested positive for COVID-19. She was scheduled to get her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine the day that she became sick, the zoo said.

Dr. Ryan Colburn, the zoo’s veterinarian, said Nika is doing well, and her health continues to improve.

Zoo officials believe Nika was likely exposed to the virus from a pre-symptomatic, positive member of the animal care team.

“The animal care and veterinary teams have been diligent with our use of (personal protective equipment) and other safety protocols in all animal spaces in particular our felid, primate, and small carnivore spaces, but we also know that no system is perfect in preventing a highly contagious virus,” Colburn said in a release.

The zoo notes no other animals are showing COVID-19 symptoms at this time. Out of an abundance of caution, the zoo will conduct additional testing of its other two tigers.

Tigers, chimpanzees, lions, snow leopards and small carnivores at the facility are completely vaccinated or are scheduled to receive their second COVID-19 vaccination, according to the zoo.

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