A tiger in a New York zoo has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to reports.
Nadia, a four-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, is reportedly the first known case of animal infected with the virus in the United States.
She was tested for the virus last week after showing symptoms including a dry cough. According to the zoo, the test result has been confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.
Nadia’s sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions have exhibited the same symptoms, but have not been tested.
‘Expected to recover’
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a nonprofit organization that oversees the Bronx Zoo, released a statement saying: “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.
“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.
“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.”
The WCS adds that the animals ‘were infected by a person caring for them who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms’.
According to the organization, preventative measures are in place in an effort to prevent further exposure of any other zoo cats.
Coronavirus and animals
There are few reports globally of companion animals testing positive for the disease. As the zoo notes, there is ‘no evidence that any person has been infected with Covid-19 in the US by animals, including by pet dogs or cats’.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is ‘no evidence that pet dogs or cats can spread the coronavirus‘, but advises people to wash their hands after contact with pets.
The Bronx Zoo has been closed to the public since March 16.