Two female hippos, a mother and her daughter, have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Antwerp zoo, which closed the pavilion, still does not know how the contamination could have occurred.

Since October 28, the Antwerp zoo has met the recommendations of the Belgian government to the letter. All visitors should be provided with the “Covid Safe Ticket”, equivalent to the health pass now compulsory in all public places. However, this December 3, covid-19 has penetrated the establishment.

Hermien and Imani, two hippos, mother and daughter, have tested positive for the coronavirus. “The way in which the animals were infected is impossible to understand. Their caregivers have already tested negative and none of them have recently contracted the disease “ wrote the zoo in a Facebook post, assuring that upon completion of their convalescence, the two hippos will be watched even more closely.

“Apart from a runny nose, luckily the animals have no symptoms and are doing well., reassures the zoo. The hippo building was immediately closed after the first positive test and will remain so temporarily until Hermien and Imani test negative. ” A very natural precaution, the zoo housing some 5,000 animal species.

The risk of contamination of animals by covid-19 was known from the start, since inter-species contamination is one of the possible causes of the arrival of the coronavirus in our lives. But until now, the contamination had mainly been observed in felines, especially domestic: the disease of Hermien and Imani would be a first.

ANSES, the health security agency, has mobilized its wildlife laboratory in Nancy to work on the subject. “This work has made it possible to highlight the significant diversity of coronaviruses which circulate in domestic and wild animal populations in France and in Europe” explains the agency, which also uses this method to identify new variants likely to be dangerous for humans.



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