AZA, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, along with AAZV, the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, has released a statement after a tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19.
This week, the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) made the announcement that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York has tested positive for the virus. The zoo is a member of AZA, which is monitoring the situation closely. AZA and AAZV have released a statement regarding the issue.
Written by Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA, and Robert Hilsenroth, DVM, Executive Director of AAZV, the statement reads:
“Since COVID-19 first appeared last fall, the world zoological community has been closely following the virus and taking the necessary health precautions to protect the public, their staff, and the animals. There is currently no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 to people.
“Nearly all AZA-accredited facilities are currently closed to the public, and dedicated professionals continue to care for all of the animals. The team at the Bronx Zoo are to be commended for recognizing symptoms in their tigers and lions and taking quick action to identify the problem. We are confident the Bronx Zoo is taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and the animals.”
AZA provides a wide range of resources for its members, including protocols and precautions to follow in case of emergency situations such as this. The association is updating its members on the situation as it develops, so they can put in place protective and preventative measures where needed.
The association has recommended that member organisations bring in more personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff working with cat species, such as coveralls, masks, eye protection and gloves. It also says that animal care staff should avoid interacting closely with cats, use footbaths when entering or leaving any cat area, and keep a close eye out for anything unusual in the health of the animals.
AZA has 215 accredited zoos and aquariums across the US. A report released last year found that these attractions contribute significantly to the US economy.