Tiger Tests Positive for Coronavirus–First Animal in the US to Become Infected

A four-year-old tiger named Nadia is now believed to be the first-ever animal in the United States to become infected with Covid-19.

The test result was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa, says the Bronx Zoo in New York City.

a tiger at the Bronx Zoo
Corbis via Getty Images

Tiger Tests Positive for COVID-19 at The Bronx Zoo in New York City

Nadia is thought to have been infected by an asymptomatic zookeeper, along with six other big cats at the zoo. It was late last month that she and the other cats started to show symptoms, including a dry cough.

Paul Calle, the chief veterinarian at the zoo told Reuters on Sunday that “This is the first time that any of us know of anywhere in the world that a person infected the animal and the animal got sick.”

Other pets had apparently tested positive elsewhere in the world, but experts have continuously stressed that there is no evidence that the animals could become sick or spread the virus.

Related: No, Your Cat Can’t Catch Coronavirus–At Least, Not THAT One

Bronx Zoo Chief Veterinarian Plans to Share Results With Other Zoos For Research

Mr. Calle says that he plans to share the positive result findings with other zoos and institutions who are currently researching how COVID-19 is transmitted.

“We tested the cat [Nadia] out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge w can gain about Covid-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus,” said the zoo in a statement.

Nadia, along with the other big cats who showed symptoms–which includes her sister, Azul, three African lions, and two Amur tigers, are thankfully expected to make a full recovery.

The statement from the zoo said that although the cats experienced a decrease in appetite, they “are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert and interactive with their keepers.”

Related: Pet Dog Tests Positive for Coronavirus, Can Cats Catch Coronavirus Too?

Development of Coronavirus Spread to Animals is Currently Unknown

It isn’t known how the virus can develop in animals like lions and tigers since different species can react in different ways, but the zoo says all animals will continue to be closely monitored.

Whether the virus can spread from zookeepers, from cat litter or cat food, what matters most is that all animals in the zoo’s care will be properly taken care of, and separated if need be.

The other big cats at the zoo, including snow leopards, four other tigers, cheetahs, a puma, an Amur leopard, and a clouded leopard are not showing signs of the illness.

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

Bronx Zoo is Now Closed to the Public to Keep Animals and Zookeepers Safe 

The tigers that did show symptoms were housed in the zoo’s Tiger Mountain area. So far, it isn’t clear whether the tigers showing no signs of illness will be tested.

All four of the zoos that are run by the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City, which includes the Bronx Zoo, have been closed to the public since March 16.

There will be new measures put in place now to protect the animals and their keepers at all the facilities.

While many pet owners might be more concerned about finding the cheapest phone plans during hard times or worrying about conspiracy theories like 5g cellular devices, the last thing they need to add to that list is worry about their pets catching coronavirus.

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