A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the CCP virus, which believed to be the first infection of a zoo animal anywhere in the world and the first case of human-to-animal transmission in the United States.
The 4-year-old tiger and six other tigers and lions have developed symptoms. The tiger is believed to have been exposed to the virus by an asymptomatic zoo worker, zoo officials and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.
“Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, has tested positive for COVID-19,” the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party ) virus, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society on Sunday.
Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions all developed a dry cough, the group said. They are all expected to recover, authorities said.
It’s not clear if the other big cats contracted the virus, but the USDA suggested it was probable.
The USDA confirmed the tiger’s positive COVID-19 test, saying in a release that “public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus.”
“The zoo has been closed to the public since mid-March, and the first tiger began showing signs of sickness on March 27. All of these large cats are expected to recover,” according to the USDA. “There is no evidence that other animals in other areas of the zoo are showing symptoms.”
The agency said it and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are both monitoring the situation, saying that anyone who is sick should restrict their access to animals, including pets.
“Although there have not been reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus,” the USDA said.
The development is sure to raise questions about the transmission of the CCP virus from humans to animals.
“We tested the cat out of an abundance of caution” and are attempting to “contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus,” said Dr. Paul Calle, the zoo’s chief veterinarian, reported The Associated Press.
Several pets, including dogs and cats, have tested positive for the virus amid the pandemic. On March 28, reports said a cat in Belgium tested positive for the virus, while two dogs have tested positive elsewhere.
“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 Bronx Zoo said, reported News12.
“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,” the zoo said.