Antwerp Zoo in Belgium said two hippos tested positive for COVID-19, which could be the first reported case of this disease in the species.
The 14-year-old hippo Imani and her mother, the 41-year-old Hermien, both tested positive and have been put into quarantine as a precaution.
Last year, Antwerp Zoo tested its animals and found no coronavirus cases, but veterinarian Francis Vercammen checked the hippos as cases rose again this winter.
“This time, they [the hippos] were expelling snot, which I had tested as a precaution to check for bacteria,” he said, explaining how he came to send samples to Belgium’s national veterinary lab.
“In view of current events, I took the additional decision to test the samples for COVID-19, which gave this surprising result,” he said.
The coronavirus could have jumped humans to the animals, but the zoo said no zookeepers had recently shown symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive for it.
Antwerp Zoo is currently investigating the cause of the contagion.