By Jesse Sarles

DENVER (CBS4) – Two tigers have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Denver Zoo. They are the first animals known to have the virus at the zoo.

(credit: Denver Zoo)

Zookeepers noticed Yuri and Nikita, who are both 11-year-old Amur tigers, coughing and sneezing and acting in a lethargic manner.

The tigers still have access to their outdoor spaces as they recover, and the zoo says they are not a risk to visitors’ health due to how far they are kept from guests. The daily tiger demonstrations have been put on hold, however, until the animals recover.

(credit: Denver Zoo)

The positive cases came despite the zoo’s extensive, ongoing efforts to protect animals there from getting COVID. An animal-specific vaccine against COVID-19 called Zoetis is not available yet, zoo staff said.

“She’s doing well, showing very little signs or symptoms. We do know that it takes a little while, potentially. There isn’t a lot of data on this, and so we’ll keep monitoring, we monitor the animals all the time and we’ll continue to monitor her,” said Brian Aucone, Senior VP Life Sciences for the Denver Zoo.

Brian Aucone, Senior Vice President for Life Sciences at Denver Zoo, said in a zoo news release that the zoo’s staff has “the expertise and experience to … provide excellent care and treatment.”

Jesse Sarles