A first: Tiger tests positive for coronavirus

A USDA veterinary laboratory confirmed a tiger at a zoo in New York, one of several tigers and lions showing signs of respiratory illness at the facility, was infected with the coronarvirus. “Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus,” said the USDA. “This is the first case of its kind.”

Although the USDA did not identify the zoo, the Bronx Zoo said the affected tiger, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger, was part of its collection.

“Though they have experienced some decrease in appetite, the cats at the Bronx Zoo are otherwise doing well under veterinary care. 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,” said the zoo.

“We are still learning about this new coronavirus and how it spreads. This case suggests that a zoo employee spread the virus to the tiger,” said USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, whose duties include enforcement of animal welfare laws. “At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread Covid-19 infection to people.”