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2 Malayan tigers at ZooTampa test positive for COVID

The two tigers are exhibiting mild respiratory symptoms and will remain in night quarters, zoo officials said.
Screen grab taken from video provided by ZooTampa showing one of the facility's tigers.
Screen grab taken from video provided by ZooTampa showing one of the facility's tigers. [ ZooTampa ]
Published Jan. 6|Updated Jan. 6

Two Malayan tigers at ZooTampa have tested positive for the coronavirus and will not be available for public viewing, zoo officials announced Thursday.

The two tigers — ages 16 and 7 — are “exhibiting mild respiratory symptoms,” zoo officials said in a news release.

“At this point, we are unsure how the vaccinated animals got the virus, but we have seen instances around the world where the virus has been transmitted from humans to big cats and primates even with strict biosecurity protocols in place,” Cynthia Stringfield, senior vice president of animal health, conservation and education, stated in the release.

Zoo officials said nasal swabs and fecal samples were taken from the cats and have been sent out for testing.

“The Zoo’s animal care team works rigorously with many of the animals to allow our medical team to conduct tests such as the nasal swab required for testing with the voluntary participation of the animal,” Stringfield said in the news release.

Zoo officials said the tigers will remain “off of public viewing and in their night quarters until further notice.” The zoo also will test its orangutans “out of an abundance of caution,” the news release states.

“The diagnosis has been reported to the US Department of Agriculture,” the news release states. “The Zoo currently has a comprehensive COVID prevention plan for all mammals which requires vaccination and use of personal protective equipment by animal care staff.”

Added Stringfield: “We are always monitoring susceptible species and will continue to review our protocols which follow the latest scientific data and government recommendations. The safety of our team, the animals entrusted to our care and guests remains our number one priority.”

• • •

How to get tested

Tampa Bay: The Times can help you find the free, public COVID-19 testing sites in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.

Florida: The Department of Health has a website that lists testing sites in the state. Some information may be out of date.

The U.S.: The Department of Health and Human Services has a website that can help you find a testing site.

• • •

How to get vaccinated

The COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5 and up and booster shots for eligible recipients are being administered at doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores and public vaccination sites. Many allow appointments to be booked online. Here’s how to find a site near you:

Find a site: Visit vaccines.gov to find vaccination sites in your ZIP code.

More help: Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline.

Phone: 800-232-0233. Help is available in English, Spanish and other languages.

TTY: 888-720-7489

Disability Information and Access Line: Call 888-677-1199 or email DIAL@n4a.org.

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More coronavirus coverage

KIDS AND VACCINES: Got questions about vaccinating your kid? Here are some answers.

BOOSTER SHOTS: Confused about which COVID booster to get? This guide will help.

BOOSTER QUESTIONS: Are there side effects? Why do I need it? Here’s the answers to your questions.

PROTECTING SENIORS: Here’s how seniors can stay safe from the virus.

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