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Akron Zoo's Prides Test Positive for COVID-19

Akron Zoo lion
Kopperhead Compositions Inc.
Donovan, an African Lion at the Akron Zoo, along with the other lions there have COVID-19. Both lion prides caught the coronavirus from a zoo employee who works in the lions' area.

The Akron Zoo announced that both prides of lions at the zoo tested positive for COVID-19. The zoo says the virus was traced to an employee who works in the lions’ facility.

The zoo is enhancing to higher-grade masks and face shields as a response. Director of Animal Health Dr. Brittany Rizzo says that while the lions got COVID from a human, animal-to-human transmission of COVID-19 at zoos has not been documented.

Rizzo: lions contracting COVID-19
 Director of Animal Health, Dr. Brittany Rizzo

“It is exceedingly unlikely that a human would contract the virus from an animal. There have been no reports of that in any zoo settings to date,” she said.

Rizzo says veterinarians noticed slight coughing and decreased appetite in the lions, which prompted the testing. They are now stable and no other animals have shown symptoms.

Spokeswoman Elena Bell stated that if a similar situation arises in the future the zoo will "meet with our animal health specialists and vet team to follow best practices."

All susceptible animals including the lions will receive the Zoetis COVID-19 investigational vaccine developed for animals.

Mason Lawlor is a senior studying journalism at Kent State University, with a minor in entrepreneurship. He has been a reporter for The Kent Stater for three semesters covering sports and the city of Kent.