The Knoxville Zoo is in a state of emergency, as the Tennessee Department of Health reports an outbreak of the coronavirus, which has already killed 11 people and caused at least 13,000 cases worldwide.
The zoo is in lockdown at all times due to the outbreak, which is being traced to a dog named Kosta.
Kosta is part of a team of animals called the Kosta Family that includes a cat, a duck and a rabbit.
We are in a quarantine, Knoxville zoo director Dr. Stephen Tullis told The Associated Press in a statement.
“We are doing everything we can to prevent infection in these animals and the rest of the zoo staff.”
The zoo closed its doors Thursday after officials found the dog with the virus in the back of a van.
It is unclear how Kosta got into the van.
The Knoxville-based zoo has more than 100,000 animals.
Tullis says the outbreak is similar to the one in Los Angeles last year, where the city of San Bernardino closed its animal enclosures after an outbreak was reported.
The Los Angeles Zoo is still operating, though.
Travis County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said Friday that the outbreak at the Knoxville and Los Angeles Zoos is being handled as an animal-borne disease, not a coronaviral one.
The San Bernardino outbreak was isolated and contained.
In a statement, the Knox County Sheriff’s Department said the zoo’s animals have been monitored since Monday, with a limited number of dogs and cats remaining at the zoo.
The animals have not had contact with humans and are being monitored by a veterinarian, the statement said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to trace the origin of the virus to two pet owners who came into contact with infected dogs and are under quarantine.
The two owners are also in quarantine at the Nashville Zoo.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is providing assistance to the Knox Zoo and its staff.
The agency is also providing additional resources, including additional food and veterinary care for the animals, Tulli said.