Brookfield Zoo

Tiger Tests Positive For COVID-19 at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo

An 11-year-old tiger has tested positive for COVID-19 at suburban Brookfield Zoo, officials announced Friday.

Malena, the Amur tiger, has been showing signs of "mild respiratory illness" late last week, according to the zoo, including lethargy, coughing and sneezing.

“Malena is an older tiger and therefore at an elevated risk," said Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society. "However, she’s in good health and her symptoms have been relatively minor. We are optimistic she will make a full recovery.”

The zoo noted that similar symptoms have appeared in other cat species held at the zoo, which has led to additional testing by the veterinary staff. Final COVID test results for other animals will likely be available next week.

In September, Malena and other high-risk animals at the zoo began receiving their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine designed for animals, a release said.

Malena received her first dose of the vaccine on Sept. 16 and was supposed to get her second next week, according to the zoo.

“Having had one dose of the animal vaccine, it’s reasonable to expect that Malena’s immune system was partially primed to combat the virus, and therefore the severity of her illness has been decreased,” Adkesson said.

Brookfield Zoo has closed its Clouded Leopard Rain Forest and Desert's Edge indoor exhibits until further notice out of precaution, a release said.

Visitors on zoo grounds are required to wear a mask inside all zoo buildings open at this time, the zoo reminded. Most of the animal care staff is fully vaccinated, as well.

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