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Tiger at Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus

An American zoo in New York has had a confirmed case of one of its big cats, and they have stated that there are other animals showing symptoms.

Tiger at Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus
Marc PiscottyAFP

The coronavirus has taken over much of the world but so far it has been very much focused on humans, and to devastating effect. On Sunday, however, it was reported that a tiger in New York’s Bronx Zoo, which has been closed to the public since 16 March, had tested positive for Covid-19.

A tiger at Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus

News of this fascinating, and potentially very concerning, development was tweeted by the editor of National Geographic and this was confirmed by the zoo itself. The four-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia was said to have been infected by an asymptomatic employee but the zoo stated that ‘appropriate measures’ were being taken to prevent further spread.

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Following tests carried out by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa, the news was confirmed and six other large cats - three more tigers and three African lions - have also shown coronavirus symptoms, including dry coughs. A statement read:

"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.

Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo.
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Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo.WCSVIA REUTERS

"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 idea that the general public would want to stray within two metres of a large predator is maybe not a particular risk. But the question over how the disease can spread into the animal world will now grow.

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