Nadia, a four-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York has tested positive for the coronavirus. Along with that, six other big cats started showing symptoms of the virus.
The female tiger, Nadia along with her sister Azul, two Siberian tigers and three African lions showed symptoms of respiratory illness in late March. Soon after, samples were taken for diagnostic tests and blood work by the vets on April 2.
The big cats are kept in isolation under veterinary care and are expected to fully recover, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The good news is, no other animal has shown symptoms, yet.
“It’s the first time, to our knowledge, that an [wild] animal has gotten sick from the coronavirus from a person,” says Paul Calle, chief veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo. The big cats are known to have gotten infected from a zoo employee who was ‘asymptomatically’ infected with the coronavirus. This could have happened while the employee was taking care of the wild cats.
“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,” Calle said when asked about the infected cats.
“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.”
According to the chief veterinarian, the female tiger Nadia’s tests were examined in a veterinary school laboratory, Wildlife Conservation Society, Lowa. Moreover, it is not the same test as that used for people.
The vet also said that he hopes to share any information found, with other zoos and institutions researching the transmission of COVID-19
“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 vet said in one of his statements.
However, this is not the first case in animals around the world but it is the first un-domesticated animal to test positive for COVID-19 in the US. Several other domestic animals were already tested positive before this incident. The animals which were infected by the coronavirus are, a Pomeranian, a German Shepherd in Hong Kong and a domestic cat in Belgium.
According to a new Chinese research, cats are more prone to infect each other with the virus. However, it is not yet confirmed whether domestic or wild animals can spread the virus to people.
Whereas, people sick with COVID-19 are advised to keep away from pets and other animals for precautionary measures. Zookeepers around the world are also making efforts to keep the animals safe from the pandemic. Any infected zookeeper is advised to maintain distance from the animals especially apes as they are more susceptible to the coronavirus.
Although the news of the infected tiger has raised concerns all around the world, with the growing number of COVID-19 patients. People are advised to not make decisions that may prove dangerous and hurtful to their pets and themselves. Moreover, they are requested to not isolate their pets from them in order to keep the virus from spreading, not only in humans but animals too.