A 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19, the zoo announced Sunday. It is the first instance of a tiger testing positive for the virus, the USDA said.
Nadia, the COVID-19 positive tiger, was exposed by an asymptomatic worker, the zoo said. The zoo says "appropriate preventative measures" have been implemented to care for the cats and minimize further exposure.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, six other large cats are also showing symptoms. The test was conducted in Iowa by the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory.
Zoo officials said Nadia, three other tigers, and three African lions have developed a dry cough, but are all expected to recover.
"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's release 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," the zoo continued.
New York City's zoos and aquariums have been closed to the public since March 16.
The American Veterinary Medical Association released the following guidance for human and pet interaction:
Nothing about this case changes AVMA’s ongoing recommendation that, out of an abundance of caution, and until more is known about this virus, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just as you would restrict contact with other people. When possible, have another member of your household or business take care of feeding and otherwise caring for any animals. If you have a service animal or you must care for your animals, including pets, wear a cloth facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.
If you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your pet as you normally would, including walking, feeding, and playing. You should continue to practice good hygiene during those interactions (e.g., wash hands before and after interacting with your pet, including when handling food, supplies, and waste; ensure your pet is kept clean; regularly wash your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys).