Antwerp Zoo said it is unclear how the hippos caught the virus

A Belgian zoo has said that its two hippopotamuses have been taken into quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus.

It is unclear how Imani, aged 14, and Hermien, 41, caught the virus, Antwerp Zoo said, adding the animals were doing well – apart from having runny noses.

Restrictions have been tightened at the zoo until the animals test negative.

Globally, there have been several reports of captive and domesticated animals infected with Sars-CoV-2.

The hippos’ noses are usually wet, but vets at Antwerp Zoo decided to test the pair after they noticed they were “expelling snot”.

Their enclosure has been sealed off. Their handlers – who have tested negative – must wear masks and safety glasses, and disinfect their footwear before any contact with the hippos.

“To my knowledge, it’s the first recorded contamination among this species. Throughout the world this virus has mostly been seen in great apes and felines,” said Antwerp Zoo vet Francis Vercammen.

Earlier this week, Canada also confirmed that three Covid cases had been discovered in wild deer – the first such report in the country’s wildlife.

But limited testing means no-one knows how prevalent coronavirus is in the wild.



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