Per a latest update, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger from the Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for the novel coronavirus, making her the first animal in the U.S. to test positive for the virus.
Bronx Zoo Tiger Tests Positive For COVID-19
Named Nadia, the 4-year-old Mayalan tiger has tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, as per an announcement from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The female Malayan tiger, along with six other big cats (Nadia’s sister Azul, three African lions and two Amur tigers) had all reportedly come down with a dry cough. However, only Nadia had been tested for the virus, although the zoo is assuming that the other big cats are also infected with the coronavirus already, as evidenced by the symptoms that they are showing.
“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,” the WCS (who operates the zoo) said in a statement.
Per WCS, the root of the problem probably came from an infected caretaker that interacted with the big cats before he or she started the symptoms of the disease. As such, preventive measures had since been put into place in order to prevent exposure to the cats and keep both them and the caretakers safe from the virus.
Thankfully, the WCS has also revealed that the cats are still doing well despite a noticeable decrease in appetite. In fact, the statement has also described the cats as “bright, alert and interactive with their keepers,” with vets currently present at the zoo to make sure that they are given the extra care that they need now. Furthermore, all are expected to recover, including the four tigers that live in the Tiger Mountain exhibit.
Per experts, cats getting infected with the virus aren’t surprising since they seem to have a receptor protein that is similar to the human counterpart that is involved in COVID-19 infections.
“The feline ACE2 protein resembles the human ACE2 homologue, which is most likely the cellular receptor which is being used by SARS-CoV-2 for cell entry,” Steven Van Gucht, virologist and federal spokesperson, said.