Tiger at the Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus

Tiger at the Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus
Six other big cats -- three tigers and three lions -- housed at the Bronx Zoo are also displaying symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times, New York: A four-year-old female tiger in New York City’s Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Malayan tiger, named Nadia, is believed to be the first known case of an animal infected by a human with Covid-19.

The zoo authority says the test result was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.

It is thought that Nadia, along with six other big cats have been infected by an asymptomatic zookeeper.

The employee has not been identified. After exposure to the employee late last month, the cats started showing symptoms, including dry cough.

The chief veterinarian at the zoo, Paul Calle said: “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.”

He said he intends to share the findings with other zoos and institutions researching the transmission of Covid-19.

The zoo issued a statement which reads: “We tested the cat [Nadia] 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.”

Zoo authority said, Nadia, her sister Azul, as well as two Amur tigers and three African lions who showed symptoms, are all expected to make a full recovery.

The big cats did have some decrease in appetite but “are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers”, the statement added.

All animals will be monitored closely

How the virus will develop in animals like tigers and lions, is not known to the zoo authorities yet, since various species can react differently to new infections, but all the animals will be closely monitored.

None of the zoo’s other big cats – four other tigers, cheetahs, snow leopards, an Amur leopard, a clouded leopard, a puma, and a serval – are showing any signs of 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.

All the tigers showing symptoms were separated in the zoo’s Tiger Mountain area.

The Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City runs four zoos, including the Bronx Zoo. All of them have been closed to the public since 16 March.

New measures will now be put in place to protect the animals and their caretakers at all the facilities.

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