ST. LOUIS ( – Eight big cats at the Saint Louis Zoo have recently tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The animals are two African lions, two snow leopards, two jaguars, an Amur tiger and a Puma. They are each being closely monitored and expected to make a full recovery. The spread of the virus is isolated to Big Cat Country and no other animals are showing any signs of infection, according to the zoo. The cats showed no signs of illness, but a few did have a decreased appetite and were less active for short periods of time.

All the infected animals received a two-dose series of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine specific for animals between Sept. 30 and Oct. 26. The Zoo believes the animals were exposed before the second dose.

“The vaccine, even partial immunization, likely helped our cats be able to mount a stronger immune response, and show fewer signs of illness for a shorter period of time than they would have if not previously vaccinated,” said Dr. Sathya Chinnadurai, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACZM, Dipl. ACVAA, Dipl. ACAW, Director of Animal Health, Saint Louis Zoo.

The Zoo requires all staff to be vaccinated and to mask while indoors anywhere at the Zoo as well as when around potentially at-risk animals.

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