Tiger at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids tests positive for COVID-19

Zoo officials say Nika is doing well and recovering
Nika tiger.jpeg
Posted at 9:56 AM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 09:58:18-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WXYZ) — A tiger at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids has tested positive for COVID-19 and is recovering, the zoo announced on Monday.

According to the zoo, Nika, a 16-year-old female Amur tiger, became ill and was tested for COVID-19.

Zoo officials suspect that her exposure came from a pre-symptomatic, positive member of the animal care team at the zoo.

“Even with increased safety protocols in place for the care of the Zoo’s animals, we know that just as with humans, the spreading of COVID can occur even among those who are vaccinated and practicing safe habits and protocols,” said Peter D’Arienzo, Chief Executive Officer with John Ball Zoo.

The zoo did vaccinate tigers, chimpanzees, lions, snow leapords and small carnivores against COVID-19.

“The animal care and veterinary teams have been diligent with our use of PPE and other safety protocols in all animal spaces in particular our felid, primate, and small carnivore spaces, but we also know that no system is perfect in preventing a highly contagious virus,” said Dr. Ryan Colburn, John Ball Zoo’s veterinarian.

Colburn said that Nika is doing well and her health is improving. There are no signs of other zoo cats or animals of having COVID-19, but they are testing the other tigers.