Zoo Knoxville has been taking extra precautions to keep staff members and animals safe, even before a tiger at the Bronx Zoo became the first known big cat to be diagnosed with coronavirus.
"We had protective measures in place long before this tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for Covid. We had met with our vets as this thing was starting and we wanted to get ahead of it and make sure everything we did was as it needed to be at the moment but also planning for the future," said Phil Colclough, Director of Animal Care at Zoo Knoxville.
Staff members are already wearing masks and gloves when dealing with the animals, and the zoo has staggered staffing to eliminate as much overlap as possible.
Colclough said they've had their guard up from the beginning when it came to the primates because they are so closely related to humans. They know that chimps, apes and other primates can get the common cold and the flu, just like us, so they're always careful around them.
No one knew that tigers were susceptible to the coronavirus until now, but zoo staff will maintain extra precautions with them and other animals as well.
The zoo will stay in close contact with the vets at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine in case anything comes up.