The Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ZSTT) says it is doing everything it can to keep our animals safe at the Emperor Valley Zoo amidst the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Since news that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in the US has tested positive for Covid-19 was released, the Society said that they are already in consultations with Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries on the likely impact for Trinidad and Tobago on the news.
The Society said via a press release, “The first major step taken by the ZSTT in respect of the arrival of COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago was to close the Emperor Valley Zoo from Sunday March 15, 2020 for one week initially. Since then the Zoo remains closed.”
They said the decision was made at a time when Zoos remained open around the world but they decided to closed the Zoo based on a statement made by the Prime Minister.
They have identified some key points to share with citizens based on information currently in the public domain:
– this positive test at the Bronx Zoo is the first instance of a tiger being infected with COVID-19;
– samples from the tiger at the Bronx Zoo were taken and tested after several lions and tigers at
that Zoo showed symptoms of respiratory illness;
– the USDA says public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed
to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus;
– the Bronx Zoo has been closed to the public since mid-March, and the first tiger began showing
signs of sickness on March 27;
– all of these large cats are expected to recover;
– there is no evidence that other animals in other areas of the Bronx Zoo are showing symptoms;
– there is still no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted from animal to human;
– the Emperor Valley Zoo was closed on March 15, 2020 as a precautionary measure even before
zoos around the world were closing;
– employees at the Emperor Valley Zoo who interact with the animals, particularly the primates, have been undergoing health surveillance in line with COVID-19 guidelines and this continues;
– none of the animals at the Emperor Valley Zoo show symptoms associated with COVID-19;
– the ZSTT together with the Emperor Valley Zoo and the Chief Vet Officer of the Ministry of
Agriculture, Land and Fisheries continue to monitor all developments globally in connection
with COVID-19 and animals;
– there have been a handful of reports outside the US of pet dogs or cats becoming infected after
close contact with contagious people, including a Hong Kong dog that tested positive for a low
level of the pathogen in February and early March;
– the ZSTT and Emperor Valley Zoo are in direct contact with the Zoological Association of the
Americas and John Seyjagat its T&T-born CEO and ZSTT Board member;
– the ZAA is committed to providing Trinidad and Tobago with technical support on this issue as
– the ZSTT would be guided by the Ministry of Health on this matter;
The Society said since late 2019, they have been on the alert to the presence of a new coronavirus strain, and their preparations were in line with their response to MERS and SARS before.
“On account of this we have been in regular contact with the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries and other global partners including the Zoological Association of America (ZAA).”