Science | April 5, 2020 5:22 pm

Bronx Zoo Tiger Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Several other lions and tigers showed signs of infection as well

This is a different tiger in a different zoo.
Alexander Leisser/Creative Commons

As COVID-19 makes its way around the globe and governments do their best to contain the pandemic, scientists have raised a list of questions about it that remain unanswered. Among them is the degree to which animals can play a part in spreading the coronavirus. This has generally been posed in the context of whether humans and pets might endanger one another. Today, however, comes alarming news from New York City about a very different case of the coronavirus spreading from humans to animals.

The report comes from National Geographic‘s Natasha Daly, who wrote that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo has contracted the coronavirus from a zoo worker. The tiger tested positive for it; 6 other lions and tigers are also showing symptoms.

The USDA released a statement about the infection earlier today, in which the agency struck a tone of caution:

Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus. The zoo has been closed to the public since mid-March, and the first tiger began showing signs of sickness on March 27. All of these large cats are expected to recover. There is no evidence that other animals in other areas of the zoo are showing symptoms.

Another excerpt from the statement offers reassuring words for those concerned about pets transmitting the coronavirus to humans: “At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread COVID-19 infection to people.”

This tiger is not the first animal to be infected with the coronavirus. In March, a dog tested positive and later died — though it’s unclear if that was due to coronavirus or something else. Still, this news about the tiger is another unsettling development in a year that’s been full of them.

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