Officials investigate how rare Sumatran tigers in Indonesia caught COVID-19

Officials investigate how rare Sumatran tigers in Indonesia caught COVID-19
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Officials are investigating how two rare Sumatran tigers in Indonesia became infected with COVID-19.

The two tigers, 9-year-old Tino and 12-year-old Hari, became ill and started showing COVID-19 symptoms within days of each other in early July, The Associated Press reported.

On July 9, Tino began showing signs, including a runny nose, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and sneezing. The wire service reported that several days later Hari started showing the same signs, and the two later returned positive COVID-19 tests after they were swabbed, according to a Jakarta official.

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Native only to the Sumatra island in Indonesia, the Sumatran tiger is the smallest species of tiger worldwide, according to National Geographic. They’re considered a critically endangered species with less than 500 of them left due to poaching and deforestation.

Suzi Marsitawati, who heads Jakarta’s Parks and City Forest Office, said that the tigers were now recovering after undergoing between 10 to 12 days of treatment, Reuters reported

She said the Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta was closely monitoring their health, the AP noted.

“Their condition is good now. Their appetite has returned and they’re being active,” Marsitawati said.

She reported that no staff at the zoo had tested positive for the virus, and officials are investigating how the tigers became infected given that the zoo had already been closed to visitors at the time, Reuters reported.

"When the animals started to show symptoms, the Ragunan zoo was already closed due to emergency mobility restrictions," Marsitawati said.

COVID-19 cases in Indonesia have been steadily declining since hitting a record peak of 56,757 confirmed cases on July 15, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On July 30, the country saw 41,168 cases.