A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City has tested positive for the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the first known case of a human infecting an animal and making it sick.
Nadia, the 4-year-old Malayan tiger that tested positive, was screened for the COVID-19 disease after developing a dry cough along with three other tigers and three lions, said the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the zoo. All of the cats are expected to recover, it said.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is believed to have spread from animals to humans, and a handful of animals have tested positive in Hong Kong.
But officials believe this is a unique case because Nadia became sick after exposure to an asymptomatic zoo employee, Paul Calle, Chief Veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo said. Calle said they did not know which employee infected the tiger. While the other tigers and lions were also exhibiting symptoms, the zoo decided to test only Nadia because she was the sickest and had started to lose her appetite, and they did not want to subject all the cats to anesthesia.