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Two Vaccinated Tigers At ZooTampa Test Positive For COVID-19

TAMPA (CBSMiami) -- Two Malayan tigers at ZooTampa at Lowry Park have tested positive for COVID-19.

The zoo's medical care team tested the 16-year-old and 7-year-old tigers after they showed "mild respiratory symptoms." 

The zoo says the tigers were vaccinated and they are unsure how the tigers contracted the virus.

"At this point, we are unsure how the vaccinated animals got the virus, but we have seen instances around the world where the virus has been transmitted from humans to big cats and primates even with strict biosecurity protocols in place," stated Senior Vice President of Animal Health, Conservation and Education Dr. Cynthia Stringfield in a press release.

Nasal swabs and fecal samples of the animals were sent out following approval by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

"The Zoo's animal care team works rigorously with many of the animals to allow our medical team to conduct tests such as the nasal swab required for testing with the voluntary participation of the animal," added Stringfield.

The tigers are being treated and monitored around the clock and will not go out on public exhibit until they are back in good health.

The diagnosis has been reported to the US Department of Agriculture. The Zoo currently has a comprehensive COVID prevention plan for all mammals which requires vaccination and use of personal protective equipment by animal care staff.

The zoo says the nearby orangutans will also be tested as a safety precaution.

"We are always monitoring susceptible species and will continue to review our protocols which follow the latest scientific data and government recommendations," added Stringfield. "The safety of our team, the animals entrusted to our care and guests remains our number one priority."

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