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Zoo Hippos Test Positive for COVID

Zoo says only symptom was 'expelling snot'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2021 1:21 PM CST
Zoo Hippos Test Positive for COVID
This is believed to be the first recorded case of COVID infection in hippos.   (Getty Images/pumppump)

(Newser) – Add hippos to the list of animals that can be infected with the coronavirus. In what zookeepers believe is a world first, two hippos at a zoo in Belgium tested positive for COVID-19 after workers noticed they had runny noses, the Washington Post reports. Keepers say that apart from "expelling snot," 41-year-old Hermien and 14-year-old daughter Imani are not showing any symptoms and are expected to survive. The hippos' enclosure has been sealed off and restrictions at the zoo tightened, reports the BBC. Zoo officials say the animals' caretakers have all tested negative for the virus and it's not clear how the animals were infected.

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"To my knowledge, this is the first time in this species. Worldwide, this virus has been reported mainly in great apes and felines," said the zoo's vet, Francis Vercammen, per Reuters. Cases have also been reported in animals including deer, mink, and otters. The zoo, which has more than 5,000 animals, says handlers are now required to wear masks and safety glasses before getting near the hippos. (Last month, three beloved snow leopards at a children's zoo in Nebraska died after testing positive.)

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