A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus

Cheryl Sanders
April 6, 2020

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in people, according to the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which manages the zoo, identified the tiger as Nadia, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger.

Only one of the cats was tested because collecting a sample required general anesthesia, the USDA said.

While dogs and cats can test positive for the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there is no evidence that suggests animals can spread the coronavirus, McClatchy News previously reported. The first animal started showing symptoms March 27, and all are doing well and expected to recover, said the zoo, which has been closed to the public since March 16 amid the surging coronavirus outbreak in NY.

Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions all developed a dry cough, the group said.

None of the other cats at the zoo, which includes leopards, cheetahs, and pumas, have shown symptoms, the society said.

The Bronx Zoo has been closed due to the pandemic since March 16 but has implemented preventive measures to protect staff members and other animals from exposure, the zoo said.

Nadia and the other cats experienced decreased appetite, but are otherwise "bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers" while under veterinary care, the release said.

As federal and state governments have issued tight travel restrictions and advised social distancing to keep humans at least six feet apart to prevent spreading the disease, the USDA advised anyone who's contracted COVID-19 to restrict contact with animals, including pets, during their illness. All of the cats are expected to recover.

Health experts said the coronavirus outbreaks around the world have been driven by person-to-person transmission.

Some researchers have been trying to understand the susceptibility of different animal species to the virus, and to determine how it spreads among animals, according to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.

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