Stubbley and Osceola, the Virginia Zoo’s two Malayan tigers have tested positive for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) upon preliminary testing. Confirmatory testing is currently underway.
The Animal Care Team first observed mild respiratory symptoms including a dry cough and wheezing in the tigers last week which were consistent with previous cases of COVID-19 in big cats diagnosed with the virus at other zoological institutions. Because of this, both the tigers were tested out of an abundance of caution. Our third tiger, Christopher, has since developed mild respiratory symptoms and samples from him are being submitted for diagnostics.
Although, there is no indication at this time that humans are at risk of catching this disease from big cats all three tigers are currently off exhibit. The Zoo’s tiger exhibit is also significantly distanced from visitor pathways. The closest contact a visitor could have to the animal is more than 40 feet. The close viewing areas of the tigers, such as their pool or cave, are completely enclosed by glass and rock work. The Zoo is confident that there would be no opportunity to transmit the virus from the tigers to a visitor.