Skip to main content

Covid testing in the lions' den


This is, of course, partly an excuse to pop a cute animal picture up on TravelGumbo, but it does answer a question many of us have had as we've waited on line for nasal swabs or vaccinations: How do you do a nasal swab on a lion? or a giraffe?

Belgium's Antwerp Zoo has the answer: you don't. The animals just won't put up with it. Francis Varcammen, the Zoo's veterinarian, told reporters that “Inserting a swab deep into the nose is too invasive for most species. Moreover, in wild animals such as lions or chimpanzees, this method is very dangerous for the researchers.” Umm, yes.

So, the researchers started at the other end, collecting samples three times from each of 372 animals at the Antwerp and Planckendael Zoos. The subjects included chimpanzees, gorillas, giraffes, rhinos and many more, including, yes, the lions.

Then, Tine Cooreman, a graduate student at University of Antwerp, set to work carefully examining all the samples, extracting RNA and producing DNA from it that could be tested using a PCR test. The net result: A clean bill of health for the animals, and a completed Master's thesis for Cooreman.

Other Belgian zoos cleared their animals with different methods including relying on blood testing.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Add Comment

Comments (0)

Link copied to your clipboard.