The Greater Vancouver zoo has one Siberian tiger in its facility, which houses other large exotic felines. Zoo staff have begun to wear masks around the big cats, to prevent COVID-19 spread. (Bladimir Perez/Special to the Aldergrove Star)

The Greater Vancouver zoo has one Siberian tiger in its facility, which houses other large exotic felines. Zoo staff have begun to wear masks around the big cats, to prevent COVID-19 spread. (Bladimir Perez/Special to the Aldergrove Star)

Vancouver zoo taking precautions after New York tiger tests positive for COVID

Zoo staff now ‘required to wear masks when in close proximity to felines,’ says animal care manager

Masks are now required when caring for cats at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove, after a tiger in an American zoo tested positive for COVID-19.

“We have implemented increased precautionary measures such as all animal care staff are required to wear masks in specific situations particularly when in close proximity to felines,” animal care manager Menita Prasad said.

“As this is the first case of its kind, we are aware that certain animal species are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19,” she explained.

News broke in early April that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the coronavirus, after showing respiratory symptoms on March 27, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.

READ MORE: Aldergrove zoo closes to public due to COVID-19

The Aldergrove zoo has lions, a Siberian tiger and a cheetah that fit into the feline category. 

Prasad said, prior to the instance, the zoo follows safety protocols to “minimize disease transmission” between animals and staff.

As COVID-19 cases have emerged in Langley, and the first animal transmission of the virus has struck the U.S., staff at the local zoo and the animals they care for continue to practise social distancing.

The 120-acre facility has been closed to the public, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, since March 18.

COVID-19 and pet owners

The same U.S. Agriculture Department report that revealed a tiger at the Bronx Zoo was infected with COVID, encouraged everyday pet owners, if sick, to “wash their hands before and after the interaction.”

And if COVID-positive, people should restrict contact with their pets and animals, it said.

Conversely, “at this time, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread COVID-19 infection to people,” it added.

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