Tiger at Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus after ‘being infected by asymptomatic keeper’ – The Sun

A TIGER at New York's Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the coronavirus, in what is thought to be the world's first case of a big cat contracting the disease.

Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, tested positive for COVID-19, with the USDA saying it is the "first case of its kind".

"Our cats were infected by a person caring for them who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms."

The tiger first began showing signs of sickness on March 27, while Nadia's sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions have also developed a dry cough, according to a spokesperson from the zoo.

They are "all expected to recover," said the spokesperson.

The Bronx Zoo has been closed to the public since mid-March, but had converted its empty parking lots into coronavirus testing centers, and set up white tents to test employees of the nearby Montefiore Medical Center for COVID-19.

The positive COVID-19 test for the tiger was confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory, based in Ames, Iowa.

"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," said the zoo's spokesperson.

The cats have shown a decreased appetite but are "bright and alert" with their zookeepers.

The zoo, which is owned by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) added it is not known how the disease will develop in the big cats.

"Different species can react differently to novel infections, but we will continue to monitor them closely and anticipate full recoveries," the spokesperson added.

The four affected tigers live in the zoo's Tiger Mountain exhibit. One male Amur tiger that lives in the same enclosure has not exhibited any symptoms, nor have a Malayan tiger and two Amur tigers at the zoo’s Wild Asia exhibit.

A statement from the USDA said: "This is the first instance of a tiger being infected with COVID-19.

"Samples from this tiger were taken and tested after several lions and tigers at the zoo showed symptoms of respiratory illness.

"Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding [the] virus.

"All of these large cats are expected to recover. There is no evidence that other animals in other areas of the zoo are showing symptoms."

State animal and public health officials will decide whether other animals at the zoo, and elsewhere in the US, should be tested for the virus.

The zoo also houses snow leopards, cheetahs, a puma, serval, clouded leopard and Amur leopard, however none of those cats are showing signs of illness.

The zoo has since implemented "appropriate preventative measures" at the animal park, as well as the four other zoos that the WCS has in its portfolio.

"Anyone sick with COVID-19 should restrict contact with animals, out of an abundance of caution including pets, during their illness, just as they would with other people," the USDA added.

"Although there have not been reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus."

The Sun has contacted the World Organisation for Animal Health for comment.

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