Tiger tests positive for coronavirus

New York’s Bronx Zoo said that the tiger had started showing some symptoms like a ‘dry cough’ but have said that the animal is in good condition

One of the tigers at the Bronx Zoo
One of the tigers at the Bronx Zoo

A four-year-old Malayan tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement, the zoo said that the result was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.

‘Nadia’ the tiger, along with six other big cats, is thought to have been infected by an asymptomatic zoo keeper.

None of the zoo's other big cats, including four other tigers, snow leopards, cheetahs, a clouded leopard, an Amur leopard, a puma are showing any symptoms of the disease.

"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," Paul Calle, the chief veterinarian at the zoo, told the media on Sunday.

The cats started to show symptoms like a dry cough last month, after being exposed to the employee.

The zoo keeper has not yet been identified.

"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," the zoo said in a statement.

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 zoo said.

Nadia the tiger is the first animal in the US to have officially tested positive for the coronavirus.

Other companion animals, such as two dogs in Hong Kong, have tested positive for the coronavirus, but the World Health Organization has said that there is no evidence that pet dogs or cats can pass on the virus.

WHO have also said that studies are underway to understand the issue of animal to human transmission better, and has urged people who tested positive for COVID-19 to stay away from pets.

On the other hand, conservation experts have warned that the virus might pose a threat to great apes like Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Orangutans, with measures being taken to ensure their protection.