Otters at Georgia Aquarium test positive for COVID-19
© Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium announced that their Asian small-clawed otters have tested positive for COVID-19, the latest animals to contract the highly contagious virus.

The Atlanta facility said Sunday that the entire group of animals was exhibiting mild respiratory symptoms including sneezing, runny noses, mild lethargy and coughing.

The long-term side effects of COVID-19 among the species are unknown but Tonya Clauss, vice president of animal and environmental health, said the animal care team expects the otters to make a full recovery.

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“We are providing supportive care as needed so they can eat, rest and recover," Clauss said in a statement. 

It is suspected that the otters were infected by an asymptomatic staff member.

“Out of an abundance of caution, all staff who have been in contact with the otters have been tested. The risk of animal-to-human transmission is incredibly rare. The Asian small-clawed otters at the Aquarium do not have direct contact with guests and have always been behind acrylic barriers, separating them from guests,” the aquarium said in a statement.

The otters are not the first animals in captivity to test positive for coronavirus in the U.S. 

Tigers are apparently more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus. Two Malayan tigers tested positive in Virginia earlier this month and at least eight big cats — including five tigers and three African lions — became infected with the coronavirus at the Bronx Zoo last year

Several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive for COVID-19 in 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.