Assiniboine Park Zoo beefs up biosecurity after New York tiger tests positive for COVID-19

By | April 7, 2020

WINNIPEG — Just days after a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19, the Assiniboine Park Zoo says it has strict biosecurity to protect the animals from the pandemic that is sweeping across the country.

On Sunday, the news broke that Nadia – a four-year-old Malayan tiger – along with six other tigers and lions in New York’s Bronx Zoo were believed to be infected by an employee who wasn’t yet showing symptoms.

READ MORE: Tiger tests positive for coronavirus at the Bronx Zoo

In Manitoba, the Assiniboine Park Zoo says it is taking precautions to make sure something similar doesn’t happen here.

Laura Cabak, a marketing and communications specialist for the zoo told CTV News that it has expanded the existing biosecurity protocols to reduce the risk to the big cats.

“Staff who care for the big cats will now be required to wear additional personal protective equipment and exercise further physical distancing to reduce indirect contact with the animals,” Cabak said in a written statement.

She added currently all the big cats are in good health.

These biosecurity protocols are in addition to the precautions the zoo has been taking at the advice of public health officials, Cabak said.

“Staff experiencing cold or flu symptoms are told not to come to work. Staff returning from travel must observe the mandatory self-isolation period before returning to work,” she said.

“The same is true of any staff potentially impacted by other self-isolation or quarantine requirements. This is our first line of defence to protect both our staff and our animals from potential illness.”

The zoo closed its doors to the public on March 18, days after the first case of COVID-19 was announced in the province.

The zoo says it will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments if necessary to protect the health of the animals and staff.

-with files from the Associated Press’Jennifer Peltz

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