Nika The Tiger At Grand Rapids John Ball Zoo Has COVID-19
Nika the tiger at Grand Rapids John Ball Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19.
In 2020, about six months into the pandemic, I had heard about a tiger in California testing positive for COVID-19. That same year the Michigan Department of Natural resources said many deer in the state had tested positive for the virus as well.
FOX 17 reported that the tiger, Nika is currently recovering.
In a release, Peter D’Arienzo, Chief Executive Officer with John Ball Zoo said,
"We continue to take the health and well-being of our team, guests, and animals seriously as we have before and during this COVID pandemic," said Peter D'Arienzo, CEO of John Ball Zoo. "As with all of the zoo's animals, Nika continues to receive exceptional care from her keeper and veterinary teams and they are cautiously optimistic on her complete recovery."
You may wonder, how did an animal that is in a cage that people cannot touch or be within six feet of catch COVID-19? Pretty much the same way many of us humans do in the workplace, a pre-symptomatic employee who works on the animal care team who was positive and just didn't know it more than likely passed on the virus to the tiger.
The tricky part of COVID-19 is how some people won't have a symptom at all, and may have been vaccinated, can carry the virus, and unknowingly give it to others.
All the staff at the John Ball Zoo follow protocols that are set in place that are similar to those doctor's offices have in place for humans, except in this case they are working with animals. Using PPE and constantly keeping animal spaces clean and disinfected. Just like with us humans, no matter how hard you try to prevent the spread of the virus, it still manages to slip through and infect.
John Ball Zoo vaccinated tigers, chimpanzees, lions, snow leopards, and small carnivores. Most animals have been fully vaccinated while some are still waiting for their second shot.
Unfortunately, for Nika, she had not received her second vaccine and then tested positive the very same day she was supposed to get her second dose.
To be safe, zookeepers are testing the other two tigers at John Ball Zoo to see if they are also positive or have antibodies from having the virus.