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Bronx Zoo tiger tests positive for COVID-19

A 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19 and five other tigers and lions developed a dry cough after interacting with an asymptomatic caretaker who was infected with the virus. Photo courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society. 
A 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19 and five other tigers and lions developed a dry cough after interacting with an asymptomatic caretaker who was infected with the virus. Photo courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society. 

April 5 (UPI) -- A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19, zoo officials announced on Sunday.

The 4-year-old female Malayan tiger, named Nadia, tested positive for the coronavirus and the test was confirmed by the United States Departments of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratory after she, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions developed a dry cough.

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"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 zoo said.

The four affected tigers live in the zoo's Tiger Mountain exhibit and one male Amur tiger that lives in the exhibit did not exhibit any clinical signs and a Malayan tiger and two Amur tigers at the zoo's Wild Asia exhibit have also not exhibited clinical signs. None of the zoos other big cats were showing any signs of illness.

While some of the affected cats have experienced loss of appetite, the zoo said they are otherwise "doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert and interactive with their keepers."

The zoo said the animals were infected by a person who was asymptomatically infected with the virus while caring for them.

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"Appropriate preventative measures are now in place for all staff who are caring for them and the other cats in our four [Wildlife Conservation Society] zoos, to prevent further exposure of any other of our zoo cats," the zoo said.

There has been no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 to people through animals other than the initial event but the USDA has recommended that anyone infected with the virus avoid contact with animals including pets.

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