Zoo tiger is latest coronavirus victim after testing positive for virus

A tiger has become the latest victim of coronavirus after testing positive for COVID-19.

Monday, 6th April 2020, 8:30 am
Updated Monday, 6th April 2020, 8:32 am
A tiger at a zoo in the USA has tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo: Bronx Zoo/Instagram).

Nadia, a four-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York, is believed to be the first known case of an animal infected with Covid-19 in the USA.

Zoo bosses say the test result was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.

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

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The cats started showing symptoms, including a dry cough, late last month after exposure to the employee, who has not been identified.

"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 Reuters news agency on Sunday.

There have been isolated instances of pets testing positive for the coronavirus elsewhere in the world, but experts have stressed there is no evidence they can become sick or spread the disease.

"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.

Nadia, her sister Azul, as well as two Amur tigers and three African lions who showed symptoms, are all expected to make a full recovery, the zoo said.

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", it said.

The zoo said it is not known how the virus will develop but all the animals will be closely monitored.

None of the zoo's other big cats - four other tigers, snow leopards, cheetahs, a clouded leopard, an Amur leopard, a puma and a serval - are showing any signs of illness.

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

The coronavirus is thought to have originated in wildlife and been passed to humans via a live animal market in Wuhan, China.