We came across this post on Facebook:
The author of the post writes that he is looking for an individual to work full-time at the Night Safari as a “swab officer (ART, assisted)”, and the individual’s main job scope is to conduct swab tests for the lions. The author also added an extra detail – that the individual “must poke [the] nose” of the lions.
High risks come with high rewards, and the author revealed that the full-timer would be paid a whopping $8,000 salary for simply working for 1 hour on 15 days per month.
While the details in the listing are undoubtedly suspicious and the high ratio of individuals who reacted with the ‘laugh’ emoji is already telling that there is some sort of satirical action going on, the post has been taken down at time of publication – perhaps due to the author getting too many PMs (personal messages) from interested parties.
Lions in the Night Safari tested positive for COVID-19
As some context, the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) announced on 9 November that four Asiatic lions in the Night Safari tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed to infected staff from Mandai Wildlife Group. According to AVS, the lions “exhibited mild symptoms including coughing, sneezing and lethargy on Saturday (Nov 6)” and were tested with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
The next day, on 10 November, AVS announced that an African lion at the Singapore Zoo also tested positive for COVID-19 after showing signs of illness.
Then comes the question – given that samples for PCR tests (for humans) are typically taken from the back of the nose or the back of the throat, does that mean that there was indeed a poor ‘swabber’ who needed to do the same for the lions?
In the report on the African lion, we read that AVS said that a “faecal sample [was] taken [and this was] tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus via PCR.”
When we did a check on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website regarding COVID-19 testing in animals, we read that while preferred samples include “nasal swab, oropharyngeal (back of throat) swab, and/or rectal swab”, samples may also be taken from “internal organs collected post-mortem”, or from the faeces, when “direct sampling is not possible or may compromise animal welfare”.
Therefore, it is false that the noses of lions (or any animals in that case) need to be swabbed to collect samples for PCR tests, given that samples maybe be taken from other parts of their bodies.
Mandai Wildlife Reserve, which owns and operates the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, has taken to their Facebook page to not just answer questions that visitors have regarding the lions, but also clarified (with a winky face, no less) that they “not recruiting for lion swabbers”.
Therefore, given the Reserve’s clarification and the pretty obvious tongue-in-cheek nature of the ‘job posting’, we rate the claim that there is a job listing for ‘lion swabbers’ at the Night Safari that pays $8k a month as satire.