A four-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced on Sunday.
The tiger, a female named Nadia, was tested for coronavirus after developing a dry cough. Her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions have also developed the dry cough.
The WCS, which said that all the big cats are expected to recover, explained in a press release, “This 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.”
“Our cats were infected by a person caring for them who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms,” the non-profit 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.”
Other animals, such as dogs, have been found to have COVID-19, apparently from their owners; it is not believed that pets or zoo animals can transmit coronavirus to humans.
The four tigers, which live in the Tiger Mountain exhibit, and three lions did show a “decrease in appetite,” the WCS also said. “The cats at the Bronx Zoo are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert, and interactive with their keeper. 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.”
Other big cats—the one male Amur tiger who also calls Tiger Mountain home; the Malayan tiger and two Amur tigers in the Wild Asia exhibit; and “the zoo’s snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopard, Amur leopard, puma or serval”—are not showing any clinical signs of illness.
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s facilities, the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and New York Aquarium, have been closed to the public since March 16th.
Nadia and Azul were born at the Bronx Zoo in 2016; here’s video of them frolicking around.
Feel better, Nadia and other big cats!