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2 female lions test positive for COVID-19 at Pittsburgh Zoo

PITTSBURGH — With cases of big cats catching COVID-19 happening across the United States, zookeepers at the Pittsburgh Zoo chose to test their six lions; and discovered two females tested positive.

“All the cats have been doing very well with supportive care, they’ve been fine and we’ve not had to really do anything but provide their basic needs. Cats, large cats that seem to have the virus don’t have any major impact from it,” said Dr. Barbara Baker, Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Baker tells Channel 11 the animals did have some symptoms as far back as February. It is unclear when the cats got infected.

“We really don’t know much about COVID-19 in large cats other than they can contract it and they generally get it from an asymptomatic keeper. So, it’s not something we have that knowledge about,” said Baker.

The zoo is not sure which staff member may have contracted COVID-19 and transmitted the virus to the cats.

Baker says there is no evidence lions can give COVID-19 to humans, therefore zoo operations have not been impacted.

“The exhibit has a very large mode that separates the visitors, its more than 30 feet away, where the lions actually are, so it’s not an issue at all with the public; and there’s also been no documented cases what so ever worldwide of a cat actually giving the virus to humans,” said Baker.

The zoo continues to follow CDC guidelines, such as wearing masks and practice social distancing.

“We’re really working very, very hard to keep our public safe when they come to the zoo. So, I hope they’ll come and enjoy it!

The lions are expected to make a full recovery.