Photo by: JULIE LARSEN MAHER

JULIE LARSEN MAHER

Bronx Zoo Tigers and Lions have Tested Positive for COVID-19

By: Discovery

Nadia, as seen on Animal Planet’s THE ZOO, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus along with six other large cats—all are expected to recover, according to zoo officials.

April 05, 2020

[UPDATED 4/22/20]

On April 5, 2020, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo released a statement that Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, has tested positive for COVID-19. Nadia was featured in the 2017 series premiere of Animal Planet's THE ZOO, which took audiences behind the scenes of the world-renowned Bronx Zoo.

According to zoo officials, they tested Nadia out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge gained about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus. The positive COVID-19 test for the tiger was confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory, based in Ames, Iowa. Samples for testing from the tiger, Nadia, were collected from her nose, throat, and respiratory tract while she was under anesthesia.

On April 5th, it was also reported that Nadia's sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions had developed a dry cough, one of the symptoms of COVID-19. It's now confirmed that the three other tigers in Tiger Mountain and the three African lions that exhibited a cough have also tested positive for COVID-19. This testing was done by using a fecal sample test developed by laboratory partners that does not require the animals be placed under anesthesia. The fecal tests confirmed the suspicion that all seven cats had the infection, and also determined that one tiger at Tiger Mountain that never developed a cough was also positive for the disease.

The Bronx Zoo thanks the cooperation and support of the New York State Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University and the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, where the initial COVID-19 testing of samples was performed and the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory where confirmatory testing was conducted.

All eight cats continue to do well. They are behaving normally, eating well, and their coughing is greatly reduced,” said zoo officials. It is not known how this disease will develop in big cats since different species can react differently to novel infections, but the zoo will continue to monitor them closely and anticipate full recoveries.

So far, none of the zoo’s snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopard, Amur leopard, puma, or serval are showing any signs of illness. Zoo officials said the cats were infected by a person caring for them who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms. However, appropriate preventive measures are now in place for all staff who are caring for the cats, and the other cats in our four WCS zoos, to prevent further exposure of any other of zoo cats.

To check in on how Nadia and the animals are doing at the Bronx Zoo and learn more about COVID-19 and animals, tune into THE ZOO: COVID-19 & YOUR ANIMALS on Saturday, April 25th AT 11P ET on Animal Planet.

Next Up

Monkeys Steal COVID-19 Tests

During the pandemic, these primates in India have taken “Monkey Business” to a whole new level.

Zoo Miami Tests Gorilla for COVID

Zoo Miami is taking every precaution to protect its gorilla population from COVID-19.

The Truth About COVID-19 and Your Animals

Experts in the medical and veterinary fields help clear up rumors and answer your burning questions about how COVID-19 affects animals.

New High Seas Treaty is a Game-Changer for Oceans

Nations are coming together to negotiate the world’s first ever high seas conservation treaty, which is expected to be signed later this year.

Murder Hornets Invade the US

For my next trick, says 2020, may I introduce you to… Murder Hornets! Spotted in the Pacific Northwest for the first time, these giant hornets put our ecosystem at risk.

Cicadas: An Early Invasion

Match point, 2020. Early cicadas are here to ruin your quiet outdoor moments.

The Battle to Save California Mountain Lions

California is considering protecting mountain lions in certain parts of the state through the Endangered Species Act – but not everyone is happy about it.

Pangolins, World's Most Trafficked Animal, May Finally Be Safe

China is removing one of the world’s most trafficked animals, the pangolin, from its list of animals used for traditional medicine.

California’s Ocean is Neon - and It’s All Natural!

The California coastline is glowing and it’s not a trick of the imagination. Nature is putting on a show and it’s all thanks to some of the smallest organisms on the planet.

How COVID-19 Revived the World’s Addiction to Plastic

Surgical masks, gloves, hand sanitizer bottles – all the most sought-after items in the coronavirus pandemic have one thing in common: plastic. So what does this temporary shift to single-use plastics mean for the environment and the world’s anti-plastic pledge?