Biology

First tiger tests positive to COVID-19 at New York's Bronx Zoo

First tiger tests positive to ...
A Malayan tiger (not the individual pictured here) has tested positive for COVID-19 at Bronx Zoo
A Malayan tiger (not the individual pictured here) has tested positive for COVID-19 at Bronx Zoo
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A Malayan tiger (not the individual pictured here) has tested positive for COVID-19 at Bronx Zoo
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A Malayan tiger (not the individual pictured here) has tested positive for COVID-19 at Bronx Zoo

In the first case of its kind, a four-year-old tiger at New York City’s Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has confirmed. The female Malayan tiger is believed to have been infected by a worker, with a number of other big cats displaying symptoms, according to the zoo. All are expected to make a full recovery.

The zoo tested the animals out of “an abundance of caution,” with the tiger’s positive COVID-19 result confirmed by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA's) National Veterinary Services Laboratory. The four-year-old Nadia had developed a dry cough, along with her sister Azul, a pair of Amur tigers and three African lions. All also experienced some decrease in appetite.

Despite this, the zoo says the big cats are under close veterinary care and are alert and interacting with the keepers as normal. The organization believes Nadia contracted COVID-19 from a worker who was asymptomatic at the time, and says that preventative measures have since been put in place to protect other staff and animals at the zoo.

As the zoo notes, it is unclear how the disease will develop in big cats. It will closely observe the animals with the intention of sharing any discoveries in this regard, as the world grapples with the many unknowns of the novel coronavirus.

While there is no evidence that animals can transmit SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to humans, researchers conducting lab experiments in China have found that infected cats can pass the virus on to other cats. The same researchers found that dogs were much less susceptible to the infection.

The USDA also released a statement in relation to the infected tiger, saying this is the first case of its type. While noting that there are currently no reports of domestic pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the US, it recommends that those with the illness limit their contact with animals until more is learned about the transmission of the virus.

Sources: Wildlife Conservation Society, US Department of Agriculture

3 comments
ljaques
What a beautiful cat! Wow. I'd love a poster of him on my hall wall. // Well, one good thing about tigers and SARS-CoV-2 is that if you get close enough to the front of a cat like that, you won't have to worry about living long enough to catch the virus. :(
christopher
"there is no evidence that" ... I am SICK TO DEATH of reading that annoying line - and it absolutely does not convey the correct meaning almost all the time. "No Evidence" means just that - which will always be the case if nobody has collected the evidence - and NEVER means that it's not going on.

Which, in this case, it obviously is. If the cat caught a human virus from a human, and spread it to other cats, OF COURSE humans are going to be able to catch the virus from those cats - IT WAS A HUMAN VIRUS IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!
Worzel
Tigers are such handsome beasts. It's such a pity that a load of superstitious idiots are causing them to be hunted to extinction, just for their bones. I'm against zoos on principle, as I consider keeping anyone in a cage for life is inhuman in the extreme. All animals have the same emotions, as humans. The most sad thing I ever read, was a zoo that put a sheep into a cage with a wolf, expecting the wolf to kill and eat it. The wolf was so lonely and desperate for company, that it made friends with it instead. It's not surprising that caged animals attack their ''handlers/keepers'' otherwise known as jailers. However, keeping some endangered animals in zoos, (preferably zoo parks,) may be the only way they can be prevented from total extinction. I hope these sick cats recover, and live happily ever after.