Mill Mountain Zoo adds steps to keep animals healthy

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - A local zoo has added extra safety measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 to animals in their care.

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Over the weekend a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for the coronavirus. Other studies have shown COVID-19 is able to be transmitted from people to cats, Virginia Tech Disease Ecology Assistant Professor Dr. Luis Escobar said.

"We are learning they are susceptible to infection," Escobar said.

To help protect the health of animals at Mill Mountain Zoo, caretakers have already added extra precautions.

"You know we really are here to be their protectors," Zoo Co-Director Robin Lentz said.

Zookeepers are now wearing face masks every time they are working with a mammal in their collection.

Escobar said that is the best way to protect the animals from getting sick.

There are reports household cats can also get sick from COVID-19, so everyone needs to do their part to keep their families safe, Escobar said.

“We should treat our pets as if they are other family members,” he said.

Escobar said studies have shown that cats can spread the COVID-19 virus to other cats, but right now there is no evidence that your pet or an animal at the zoo could make humans sick with the coronavirus.

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