Two tigers at Virginia Zoo test positive for coronavirus
© Virginia Zoo

The Virginia Zoo announced on Wednesday that two Malayan tigers tested positive for COVID-19.

The animal care team said they first observed mild respiratory symptoms including a dry cough and wheezing in the tigers Stubbley and Osceola last week.

The symptoms matched those of previous coronavirus cases diagnosed in big cats in other zoos, so noninvasive testing was performed.

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“As of today, both Stubbley and Osceola are in good spirits and are receiving supportive care from our Veterinary and Animal Care Staff. Their symptoms appear to be improving thanks to the quick actions and decisions of animal care staff to initiate testing and wonderful care at the onset of their symptoms.”

The cats are expected to make a full recovery, according to the veterinarian team.

A third tiger, Christopher, has since developed mild respiratory symptoms and samples from him are being submitted for diagnostics, according to a statement from the zoo.

“Although, there is no indication at this time that humans are at risk of catching this disease from big cats all three tigers are currently off exhibit,” the zoo said, adding that officials are confident there is no chance to transmit COVID-19 from the animals to a visitor.

The Norfolk facility, which cares for more than 500 animals, said no other big cats are showing symptoms.

It is unclear how the tigers contracted the virus, and the zoo said they are working with local health officials to identify potential sources.

Tigers are apparently more susceptible to contracting the highly contagious disease, as Stubbley and Osceola are not the first tigers in captivity in the U.S. to test positive for COVID-19.

At least eight big cats — including five tigers and three African lions — became infected with the coronavirus at the Bronx Zoo last year. Two tigers at Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in Indiana tested positive in February.

Several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive for COVID-19 on January, marking the first known cases of the disease among primates other than humans.

Four orangutans and five bonobos at the San Diego Zoo received two doses of an experimental vaccine for animals developed by veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis.