A Malayan tiger, who lives at the Bronx Zoo in New York, United States (U.S.) tested positive for Covid-19.
In a statement on Apr. 5, 2020 by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which manages Bronx Zoo, the four-year-old female tiger, Nadia, developed a dry cough and was confirmed to have the coronavirus by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.
7 big cats in the Bronx Zoo developed the dry cough
According to WCS, seven big cats developed a dry cough and have exhibited a reduced appetite.
Other than their decrease in appetite, the affected cats at the Bronx zoo were reported as being "bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers" and are doing well under the care of the veterinary team.
The seven big cats include four of the tigers in the zoo, including Nadia, and three African lions.
The four affected tigers reside in the Tiger Mountain exhibit at the zoo.
Nadia, the female tiger who tested positive for Covid-19, was tested for the virus out of caution and the zoo management stated that it will contribute any knowledge gained about the novel coronavirus in big cats.
WCS said in its statement that it anticipates that the affected big cats will recover fully:
"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 cats in the zoo, such as the snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopard, Amur leopard, puma or serval, are not showing any signs of illness.
Big cats were infected by a person who was caring for them
According to WCS, the cats were infected by someone who was caring for the cats while they were asymptomatic for Covid-19 and had not developed any symptoms.
The zoo now that measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus for all staff caring for the cats and the other cats in the four zoos that WCS manages.
According to their website, WCS manages four zoos and one aquarium.
They are the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and New York Aquarium.
According to their statement, all five establishments have been temporarily closed since Mar. 16, 2020.
WCS stated that there is no evidence that animals play a role in the transmission of Covid-19 to people, except for the initial event in the seafood market at Wuhan, China.
It added that there is no evidence that people have been infected with Covid-19 in the U.S. by animals, such as pet dogs or cats.
Top photos by WCS and via John Mestres/Facebook