In New York City, where the COVID-19 crisis is incredibly severe, a tiger at the Bronx zoo has tested positive for the novel Coronavirus. Nadia, the 4-year-old Malayan tiger tested positive earlier this month. Many zoologists believe this was the first case of COVID-19 to infect a wild animal.
In the past months, there were rumors that COVID-19 could infect dogs, which has since been debunked. Nadia’s twin sister, two other tigers, and three lions also have been reported to develop a cough.
In investigating the infected tiger, experts believe a zookeeper must have infected the animal. That all being said, the tiger is alleged to be improving day by day. Zoos around the country are now extra attuned to the virus’s ability to affect animals.
In addition to the cough, the tiger experienced a loss of appetite, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Now, the Bronx Zoo is leading the charge for understanding what it means for a wild cat to be affected by the same disease that has been ravaging our communities.
It has been said that anyone who has been affected by the virus should practice social distancing from animals until more is known about what can be affected. Under veterinary care, the Bronx Zoo has managed to get the minor outbreak under control for Nadia and the other cats.
Though no zookeepers were infected with the virus symptomatically, it is said that a zookeeper transmitted the virus to the tigers and lions asymptomatically, after the zoo had been closed to the public.
In order to treat Nadia, she had to be under anesthesia, as she was wheezing and seemed to be worsening. Of course, the fact that a tiger had even managed to secure a test was shocking to many New Yorkers, who are being denied testing themselves.
Nadia, who lives in the city with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, and a city with a major test shortage, was given a specific test that had been designed for use with the tigers.
These tests could not be used on humans who have been exposed to the virus, and vice versa. The tests were done in New York and sent for processing at Cornell University and the University of Illinois’ Veterinary labs, in which they were processed immediately.
At the lab within the University of Illinois, they have also tested a gorilla, chimpanzee, cat, dog, and an armadillo, carefully monitoring illness within other species, in addition to tigers and lions. All these other animals tested negative for COVID-19.
Now, with Nadia’s condition making headlines, many veterinary labs are making their own tests for any potentially infected animals in the coming weeks.