A Malayan tiger named Nadia at the Bronx Zoo in New York has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release from the Bronx Zoo.
Nadia — along with three other tigers who live in the Tiger Mountain exhibit and three African lions — all developed a dry cough. It's expected that all of the cats will recover.
Besides a weak appetite, the animals appear to be "doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert and interactive with their keepers," according to the press release.
This is the first instance of a tiger becoming infected with COVID-19, according to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) press release on the topic. Only one tiger was tested for COVID-19 because the process involves general anesthesia, which has potential risks, so the testing was limited to only one animal given that all the animals had similar symptoms, the USDA said.
It's believed that the cats got COVID-19 from one of their caretakers at the zoo who was either asymptomatic or wasn't showing symptoms yet when they were interacting with them.
In light of this, new preventative measures are now in place for the big cat staff at the Bronx Zoo, which is a Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) zoo, and the four other WCS zoos.
After speculation over how the tiger was able to get a COVID-19 test when testing around the country for humans is still being ramped up, Bronx Zoo chief veterinarian Dr. Paul Calle posted on the Bronx Zoo's Facebook page that "The COVID-19 testing that was performed on our Malayan tiger Nadia was performed in a veterinary school laboratory and is not the same test as is used for people. You cannot send human samples to the veterinary laboratory, and you cannot send animal tests to the human laboratories, so there is no competition for testing between these very different situations."