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Potter Park Zoo takes steps to keep animals and staff safe

Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 09, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — Potter Park Zoo is taking steps to protect their animals from COVID-19.

This comes after a tiger recently tested positive for the virus in the Bronx zoo.

Veterinarians at the Potter Park Zoo are using gloves and masks around their big cats and staying 6 feet away from them whenever possible.

"We are learning things everyday, so we are just taking a precautionary approach with the staff that are working with these possible susceptible animals, just to minimize the risk of transmission," said Ronan Eustace, DVM, Director of Animal Health at Potter Park.

Eustace says he was concerned when news broke that the 4-year-old Bronx zoo tiger tested positive, but he wasn't surprised.

"Tigers are endangered, so any possible disease that can cause illness is concerning," said Eustace. "It wasn't too surprising because there was some initial research suggesting that ferrets and cats could slightly be susceptible."

Because zoos work with closely with endangered species, Eustace says it's not uncommon to test them for diseases.

"It's not uncommon for us to detect news diseases, West Nile was first discovered at the Bronx Zoo," said Eustace. "We often do additional diagnostic testing because we are working with endangered species."

Though animals can catch the disease, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there is no evidence that they can pass it on to either humans or other animals.

"Questions that we get or come up is whether you are at risk while handling your pet, again, we tell them that pets have not shown any transference that way either," said Dr. Mary Seager, of Eastside Animal Hospital.

However, Dr. Seager suggests pet owners take precautions during this time.

"Anytime you have to handle an animal, you should wash your hands and reduce your pets' exposure to other people is probably a good idea right now."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people infected with COVID-19 to separate themselves from pets as a precaution.

The Potter Park Zoo tells FOX 47 that they are not seeing any differences in their animals during this pandemic, but they will continue to closely monitor their big cats.

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