Bronx zoo tiger tests positive for coronavirus

504

NEW YORK, April 6, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – A tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo has
tested positive for COVID-19, the institution said Sunday, and is believed to
have contracted the virus from a caretaker who was asymptomatic at the time.

The four-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia along with her sister Azul, two
Amur tigers and three African lions all developed dry coughs and are expected
to fully recover, the Wildlife Conservation Society that runs the city’s zoos
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 sent to AFP said.

“Though they have experienced some decrease in appetite, the cats at the
Bronx Zoo are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright,
alert, and interactive with their keepers,” the statement continued.

“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.”

All four of the zoos and the aquarium in New York — whose virus death toll
has topped 4,000 — have been closed since March 16.

The zoo emphasized that there is “no evidence that animals play a role in
the transmission of COVID-19 to people other 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 had identified wild animals sold in a
Wuhan market as the source of the coronavirus pandemic that has infected well
over one million people worldwide.

According to the US Department of Agriculture website there had “not been
reports of pets or other animals” in the United States falling ill with
coronavirus prior to news of the tiger Nadia.

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

In late March a pet cat was discovered infected with the novel coronavirus
in Belgium, following similar cases in Hong Kong where two dogs tested
positive for COVID-19.

All of those animals are believed to have contracted the virus from the
people they live with.

The Bronx zoo said preventative measures were in place for caretakers as
well as all cats in the city’s zoos.