As all of us continue to figure out how to navigate our daily lives during the coronavirus pandemic, people are reaching out to make sure their friends and families are doing OK and not feeling too isolated or overwhelmed. I’ve had a number of people ask about how the animals at the Detroit Zoo are faring, particularly given the news from the Bronx Zoo about the big cats who tested positive for COVID-19.
The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) animal care and veterinary teams continue to ensure that the animals at the Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center are well cared for and healthy. We’ve made a lot of changes in our procedures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus among people and animals. Before the first human case was confirmed in Michigan, the DZS was already using masks and gloves and keeping our distance when caring for the animals we considered most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection: the monkeys, lemurs and great apes. When it was determined that tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo had shown symptoms of COVID-19, we immediately expanded our preventive strategies to include a number of carnivore species.
So far, none of the animals at the Detroit Zoo have shown symptoms to indicate a possible COVID-19 infection. We are also very happy to hear that the animals at the Bronx Zoo are improving and expected to fully recover. The DZS stays in touch with zoo and wildlife colleagues across the country and overseas. We are also connected with our One Health partners in Michigan, modifying our animal care protocols as soon as new information becomes available to keep the animals who live here healthy. Meanwhile, our staff is grateful to be healthy and able to do the important work of caring for these beautiful creatures. We are monitoring animals carefully, continuing to provide preventative veterinary care such as giving vaccinations, treating to prevent heartworm, and providing care for animals with critical health problems if needed.
As the signs of spring emerge at the Zoo, it’s hard not feel sad that we can’t share the beauty of the daffodils and budding trees with guests.
When the time is right, we very much look forward to seeing all of you at the Detroit Zoo once again.
In the meantime, be well.
– Dr. Ann Duncan is the director of animal health for the Detroit Zoological Society and oversees the Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex.