The zoo, which is home to five African lions, said the care team noticed mild coughing, sneezing and decreased appetite in a few of the animals. Fecal samples were sent to the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, which indicated the lions tested presumptive positive.
The exposure likely came from a staff member who last tested positive for the virus.
The lions will remain at the Pride of Africa habitat. The Akron Zoo said they do not pose a threat of transmission to visitors.
“There is currently no data showing that zoo animals have transmitted the virus to humans, unlike the documented transmission of humans to animals. Additionally, our habitat design and use of glass throughout the park protects the animals and guests from exposure to each other while in their habitats,” the zoo said on Thursday.
The zoo also sent samples for testing of the other big cats, including the Sumatran tigers, snow leopards and jaguar. According to the Akron Zoo, these tests were negative and the animals will be monitored for symptoms.
The Akron Zoo is cleared to use the Zoetis COVID-19 vaccine, which was developed for animals. It is planning to vaccinate susceptible animals, including the lions once they recover.