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COVID-19: Tiger At Bronx Zoo Tests Positive, Becoming First US Case In An Animal

Nadia is a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger.
Nadia is a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger. Photo Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is now proving to be a foe of man and beast alike.

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has just tested COVID-19 positive, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced Sunday, April 5.

It's believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the United States or a tiger anywhere,

The positive case for Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger, was confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory, based in Ames, Iowa, the society said.

Nadia, her sister, Azul, and two Amur tigers, who all live in the zoo’s Tiger Mountain exhibit, and three African lions, had developed a dry cough and all are expected to recover, the society said.

It is believed they were infected by a zoo employee, the United States Department of Agriculture said.

"Appropriate preventive measures are now in place for all staff who are caring for them, and the other cats in our four WCS zoos, to prevent further exposure of any other of our zoo cats," the society said.

Dr. Paul Calle, the Bronx Zoo's chief veterinarian, said the tiger was tested for the virus "out of an abundance of caution" and to "contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus."

"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 Wildlife Conservation Society said. "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.

USDA officials said there is still no evidence that household pets or animals can spread the virus.

None of the zoo’s snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopard, Amur leopard, puma or serval are showing any signs of illness, the society said.

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