A Tiger at a New York City Zoo Tested Positive for the Coronavirus

A Tiger at a New York City Zoo Tested Positive for the Coronavirus

Seven animals in the zoo are suspected to have the novel coronavirus.

Joining the global rise in coronavirus cases is a female tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. Nadia, a four-year-old Malayan tiger, worried her zookeepers when she began exhibiting a dry cough and a loss of appetite on 27 Mar 2020. 

After the zoo employees sent her samples to Cornell University, the University of Illinois, and the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory, Nadia was confirmed to be the first non-domesticated animal in the world to test positive for COVID-19. 

Also read: Facts vs. Myths: What You Need to Know About the New Coronavirus

Six other large cats at the zoo showed similar signs of respiratory illness as well. Nadia’s sister Azul, two Siberian tigers, and three African lions also suffered a loss of appetite and a dry cough, leading the zookeepers to suspect that they, too, have the coronavirus. 

Since the Bronx Zoo closed its doors to visitors starting 16 Mar 2020, Dr. Paul Calle, chief veterinarian for the Wildlife Conservation Society, believes that the animals contracted the virus from an asymptomatic caretaker. 

Also read: Wildlife Tourism: When Is It Ethical?

Image credit: Radovan Zierik

Thanks to anti-inflammatory medications and the veterinary care of the zookeepers, all seven of the big cats are well on their way to recovery. No other animals at the Bronx Zoo have developed symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, thus far. 

Also read: South Africa’s Lion Whisperer: How He Became One & Where To Visit Him

What does this case mean for people with pets at home? While there are still ongoing scientific investigations to understand COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions the public — especially those who are suspected of carrying the virus — to limit their physical contact with other animals. 

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