St. Louis Zoo reports 8 big cats tested positive for COVID-19

Eight big cats at the St. Louis Zoo are under close watch after the animals tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The infected cats comprise two African lions, two snow leopards, an Amur tiger, a puma and two jaguars. The cats are expected to recover, as they had mild symptoms, although some had a cough and nasal discharge.

None of the other 12,000 animals in the zoo have tested positive, the local newspaper reported. Staff have not traced the source of the infection among the cats.

The zoo has been vaccinating its animals with an animal-specific vaccine for more than a month against the disease that has wreaked havoc on the global human population.

The cats were vaccinated with a two-shot regimen during a three-week period starting Sept. 30, but were likely exposed between doses, staff told the Post-Dispatch. According to the local outlet, staff at the zoo are required to be vaccinated and to wear a mask indoors so as not to transmit the virus to animals. 

In September, six big cats tested positive for the coronavirus at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

According to the CDC, the risk of animals spreading the coronavirus to humans is low, but people have been documented spreading the virus to animals across the world.