Seven more big cats test positive for coronavirus at Bronx Zoo

Following a National Geographic inquiry, the zoo confirms that four more tigers and three lions have the virus. This comes the same day as two pet cats in New York become the first in the U.S. to test positive.

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A Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, photographed in 2017. Five of the zoo's tigers and three of its lions have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Four more tigers and three lions at the Bronx Zoo in New York City have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, the zoo announced Wednesday afternoon, following a National Geographic inquiry. This comes nearly three weeks after one tiger at the zoo was confirmed to have the virus and six other cats were said to be exhibiting symptoms.

The diagnosis of the tiger, named Nadia, represented “the first time, to our knowledge, that a [wild] animal has gotten sick from COVID-19 from a person,” Paul Calle, chief veterinarian for the Bronx Zoo, said April 5. The big cats likely contracted the coronavirus from an infected but asymptomatic zookeeper whose identity is unknown, Calle says: “It’s the only thing that makes sense.” Calle says.

The zoo has been closed to visitors since March 16. Initially it did not plan to test the other cats showing symptoms, because doing so would require sedation, which can be dangerous. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture subsequently updated an online database with information that a lion in New York had also been confirmed as testing positive for the virus on April 15. National Geographic contacted the Bronx Zoo seeking more information on April 22. And shortly thereafter the Wildlife Conservation Society, the nonprofit that runs the Bronx Zoo, issued a press release announcing that four additional tigers and three lions had tested positive. The zoo confirmed in the press release that the additional tests were done using fecal samples and did not require...

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