A tiger housed at the Bronx Zoo in New York has tested positive for coronavirus, making it the first known infection in an animal anywhere, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories.
The 4-year-old female Malayan tiger is believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who was “asymptomatically infected with the virus” while caring for them, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo said in a release.
The Bronx Zoo has been closed to the public since March 16.
Samples from Nadia were taken and tested after the tiger – and five other tigers and lions at the zoo – began showing symptoms of respiratory illness.
The tiger along with her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions “had developed a dry cough and all are expected to recover,” a news release from the zoo said.
No other animals at the zoo are showing symptoms.
“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 zoo 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.”
Anyone sick with the coronavirus is being advised to minimize contact with animals, including pets until more information is known about the virus, the USDA said.