Tiger At Bronx Zoo Tests Positive For COVID-19

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April 4, 2020

Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City has tested positive for coronavirus and six other big cats are showing symptoms, the zoo said in a statement. These six, three tigers and three lions were later tested COVID-19 positive.

Nadia, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger, along with her sister, two Amur tigers and three African lions "had developed a dry cough," the zoo said. All seven animals are expected to make a full recovery, and seem to only be experiencing some decrease in appetite.

"We tested the cat out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus," the zoo said, adding the test result was confirmed by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

The cats were infected by "a person caring for them who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms," the zoo said.

Other big cats are not showing symptoms and the zoo said it has put "appropriate preventive measures" in place for the staff caring for the sick animals.

A veterinary expert has said that while it is surprising that a Bronx zoo tiger has contracted Covid-19, cat owners shouldn’t be alarmed.

Initial research has shown domestic cats can be infected with coronavirus if “large doses of virus are administered intranasally”. However, it is surprising that the tiger has become infected with what must have been a fairly low dose of virus – we can assume the tiger did not have continual close contact with the asymptomatic zoo keeper.

There is no evidence that animals can spread COVID-19 to people, the USDA said in a statement, but the CDC is recommending that people with the virus avoid contact with pets and other animals.

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