The big cats at the zoo are all in good shape, said Murphy, and none exhibit signs of the disease. They include the African lions Hondo, Azizi and Hatari and a cloud leopard named Suhana.
The New York Times reported that the tiger in the Bronx Zoo showed respiratory distress March 27, and that several other lions and tigers exhibited signs of the disease.
“Public health officials believe that the large cats caught Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, from a zoo employee,” the Times reported.
Sparky, a Sumatran tiger at Zoo Atlanta, is 15, just one year younger than his mate Chelsea. The two represent two of the last remaining Sumatran tigers in existence, and Zoo Atlanta hopes that they will mate some time in the future. CONTRIBUTED: ZOO ATLANTA
It is believed to be the first case of “human-to-cat” transmission.
The prospect of the disease jumping between species was cause for alarm. But Murphy said, “when people worried about their own pets, they need to take into account that no other animal in U.S. has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This was a first.”
Nonetheless, said Murphy, anyone who believes they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus should quarantine themselves, and stay separate from their household pets as well as from their human family members, just to be on the safe side.
Like most other attractions in Atlanta, Zoo Atlanta is closed to visitors, though it remains bustling with animal care professionals tending to the 1,000 creatures that live there.
Murphy said this time period has become a good opportunity to provide extra enrichment for the animals at the zoo. They've also expanded an online teaching curriculum, "to help out parents who are entering homeschooling when they didn't think they would be. This is a challenge for everybody."