BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Signs of COVID-19 in animals have closed off exhibits at the Miller Park Zoo until further notice.
According to Miller Park Zoo Superintendent Jay Tetzloff, five big cats, including four snow leopards and a Sumatran Tiger, are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
Zoo staff have closed the Katthoefer Animal Building, which houses the big cats and some primates, until further notice.
“Really any carnivore and primate we have found across North America can be susceptible to COVID and right now we’re just seeing signs in our cats, but there are also primates in that building,” Tetzloff said.
Tetzloff said in late November, the cats began coughing and had “raspy” respiration. He said no cats have tested positive for the virus, but consulted with veterinarians and are taking an abundance of caution.
According to Tetzloff, all cats are taking medications and are responding well to treatments.
He said the zoo had been seeing how animals at other zoos responded to COVID-19 vaccines before vaccinating any of the animals.
“We’ve been talking about [vaccinating them] since the vaccines came out, talking with our veterinarians, and others across the country. So I foresee us probably giving a vaccination in the future,” Tetzloff said.
Due to the building closure, the zoo is changing its prices for the opening weekend of the zoo’s annual Zoo Lights event.
Entry fees will be free for zoo members and only $5 for the Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 events. Those who purchased full-price tickets in advance will be reimbursed $3 or can donate it to the zoo.
For now, the prices for the Dec. 10 and 11 will remain $3 for zoo members and $8 for non-zoo members.
Tetzloff said Zoo Lights will still feature the lights, face painting, and visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus.