San Diego Zoo tigers believed to have breakthrough COVID cases

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Zoo says three of its Malaysian tigers that were vaccinated for COVID-19 have now tested positive for the virus.

The animals, three males named Connor, Cinta and Berani from the park’s Tiger River habitat, had positive results in testing conducted by the zoo, and now the results will go to a national laboratory for final confirmation, a spokesperson said by email.

“The potentially affected tigers are not showing any concerning signs of illness other than intermittent cough, fatigue and occasionally decreased appetite,” the zoo’s Darla Davis wrote. “Our dedicated team of specialists will continue to provide the tigers the best care available – monitoring them closely and treating symptoms as they may arise.”

The tigers were fully vaccinated with shots designed to protect animals from the coronavirus. The sick tigers would then be considered “breakthrough” cases. The zoo said the vaccine could still help by preventing more severe sickness for the big cats.

“Similar to the human vaccine, the vaccine for animals reduces the likelihood of contracting the virus and reduces the severity and duration of illness if the virus is contracted,” the zoo said.

The Tiger River area of the park will remain open to guests “as the tigers residing in the habitat are at a substantial distance,” Davis added.

“This suspected exposure of the tigers at the San Diego Zoo, and similar recent exposure of snow leopards and Sumatran tigers at the Zoo and Safari Park respectively, is consistent with how the virus continues to spread across the human community,” the spokesperson wrote. “Wildlife health and care teams at both the Zoo and Safari Park have inoculated approximately 260 animals over the past few months most at risk for the contracting the virus.”

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