Tiger at New York zoo tests positive for coronavirus

The tiger is believed to have contracted the infection from a caretaker who was asymptomatic at that time.


A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York has tested positive for coronavirus, AFP quoted authorities as saying on Sunday.

The tiger is believed to have contracted the infection from a caretaker who was asymptomatic at that time.

Nadia, the four-year-old Malayan tiger, and her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions had all developed dry cough and are expected to fully recover, the Wildlife Conservation Society running the city’s zoo said in a statement.

“We tested the cat 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,” the statement further said.

The cats at the Bronx Zoo are doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert and interactive with their keepers, even though they have experienced some loss in appetite. “It is not known how this disease will develop in big cats since different species can react differently to novel infections, but we will continue to monitor them closely and anticipate full recoveries,” the statement read.

The death toll due to coronavirus has surpassed 4,000 in New York, where all four zoos and aquariums have been closed since March 16.

The zoo said that there is “no evidence that animals play a role in the transmission of COVID-19 to people rather than the initial event in the Wuhan market, and no evidence that any person has been infected with COVID-19 in the US by animals, including by pet dogs or cats.”

Chinese disease control officials attributed wild animals sold in a Wuhan market as the possible source of the coronavirus which has affected over one million people across the world.

There had been no reports of pets or other animals in the US falling ill with coronavirus prior to that of tiger Nadia, according to the US department of Agriculture website.

“It is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus, the website said.

A pet cat was infected with coronavirus in Belgium in late March, and similar cases of dogs testing positive for the infection were reported from Hong Kong also. All these animals are believed to have contracted the disease from the people they live with.

Bronx Zoo authorities said preventive measure had been put in place for caretakers and all cats in the city’s zoos.

With inputs from AFP