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Seneca Park Zoo says a lion has tested positive for COVID-19

seneca park zoo chester the lion.jpg
Seneca Park Zoo
'Chester' - The male African lion at the Seneca Park Zoo

The Seneca Park Zoo is dealing with a case of COVID-19. The patient is the zoo’s male African lion.

The lion’s name is Chester, and he’s doing okay, according to a Facebook post from the zoo, but they note that zoo staff recently observed Chester dealing with a mild cough and decreased appetite.

Zoo staff did a PCR test, which is done through a fecal sample, and that confirmed that Chester tested positive for COVID-19.

Seneca Park Zoo veterinarian Dr. Chris McKinney said that the lion is doing well with his mild symptoms. McKinney noted that, “Given the lions' social structure, we can assume the female lions have been exposed as well, but they have displayed no obvious symptoms to date.”

All of Seneca Park Zoo’s big cats are vaccinated for COVID, including boosters, and for the animal’s protection anyone working within six feet has to wear a mask and use gloves for food preparation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that it is possible for humans to transmit the virus to animals through close contact, but the risk of animals spreading the virus to humans is low.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.