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San Antonio Zoo Took Steps to Prevent Animal Infections Before Bronx Zoo Tiger Tested Positive for COVID-19

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COURTESY OF SAN ANTONIO ZOO
  • Courtesy of San Antonio Zoo
After the news broke that a Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo has been infected with COVID-19, some zoos added additional safety measures to their animal care routines.

The San Antonio Zoo isn't one of them — but it's not what you might think. The reason the local zoo didn't have to implement changes is because they're already taking those precautions.

In addition to enacting social distancing measures, all San Antonio Zoo staff members caring for species vulnerable to the virus, including exotic cats, wear personal protective equipment — or PPE— while doing so.

"San Antonio Zoo provides daily, professional care to hundreds of species, many of which are threatened or even extinct in the wild," the zoo said in a statement emailed to the Current. "Currently, the zoo cares for one Sumatran tiger, five African lions and several other species of cats. In addition to practicing social distancing among each other and with the public, our animal care specialists, who care for exotic cats and select other species, are and have been wearing PPE gear, which includes masks and gloves when in close contact to the animals."

Further, the zoo said its use of PPE was not added due to the pandemic: "We have been using PPE for decades prior to COVID-19," zoo veterinarian Dr. Rob Coke told the Current.

"All of the animals at San Antonio Zoo receive thorough visual exams daily, world-class veterinary care, welfare enrichment, and are currently doing great," the zoo's statement continued.

While San Antonio shelters in place, anyone looking to connect to the zoo from home can do so via its media page. The zoo also has launched an emergency fund to raise money for the animals' care while it is closed during the health crisis.

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