COVID-19 is the disease that has cut through the entire globe and has infected a vast number of the human populace in the last few months. Now, this horrifying disease is threatening the big cats such as lions and tigers.
As per the experts of animal welfare, the ones that are the greatest risk of contracting coronavirus are the thousands of the tigers that are kept in the zoos as well as private captivities across the US.
In the US nearly 59000 of the tigers live in captivity across multiple states with only 6 percent of this population being the accredited zoos. This number was brought to light by the documentary of Netflix titled ‘Tiger King”.
Ho0wver, even these big cats that live in these approved zoos are now at risk of contracting COVID-19. Lately, 3 African Lions, as well as 4 tigers, have already been diagnosed with the COVID-19 that are kept at the Bronx Zoo located in New York. Officials of the zoos believe that these animals contracted the virus from the zookeepers.
Although the illness in these big cats seems to be mild as well as there being no proof that the virus can be transmitted to humans, these accredited zoos, however, are making necessary guidelines for maintaining the social distancing of these animals and the staff.
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These big cats in the accredited zoos are the lucky ones. As for the tigers that are sold in a private market, they are most likely to be living in compact and cramped conditions with few resources.
One renowned star form Tiger King, Saff Saffery who has been in contact with the unregulated sanctuaries and zoos, says that most of these owners are not able to protect these animals. There is always a possibility of the disease outbreak.
In other news, the Columbus Zoo has made plans to reopen their zoo during the summer but they have suffered major financial toll due to the ongoing coronavirus lockdown. So far, the zoo has furloughed 29 of its employees while 33 positions have been removed so far. The economic impact caused by the shutdown has resulted in challenges for the animal keepers across the US.
The owner of the Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary located in Punta Gorda, Florida, Lauri Caron houses about hundreds of exotic animals. She says that recently she has been struggling with the supplies for all the volunteers who help her manager the Sanctuary’s big cats which are 20 bobcats, 3 tigers, and 14 lions.
“We require more gloves and masks. We don’t have enough of these. For now, any of our volunteer who feels sick is not allowed in the sanctuary. We are also spraying bleach on the bottom-side of the shoes of our volunteers as well as the animal toys.”
She continues, “There are so many unknowns but we are taking all the precautions that we can. As for the medication and supplies, we rely on our visitors for that and we do not know as what we are going to do without that funding anymore.”