A Tiger At The Bronx Zoo Becomes First Animal In U.S. To Test Positive For COVID-19

Bianca Bahamondes Bianca Bahamondes

A Tiger At The Bronx Zoo Becomes First Animal In U.S. To Test Positive For COVID-19

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has become the first animal in the US to test positive for COVID-19.

Earlier today (Sunday, April 5), the Wildlife Conservation Society announced that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo had tested positive for COVID-19 by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory—becoming the first animal recorded to do so in the country. According to the announcement, the animal is a 4-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia who developed a dry cough, along with her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions. All of which are expected to have a full recovery.

The release goes on to state:

We tested the cat out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus.”

The zoo has noted that the tigers appear to have exhibited a decrease in appetite, but are currently being watched by a Veterinarian and are otherwise “bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers.


Since there has not been much study on how the virus effects big cats, the WCS assures us that all animals are being monitored closely. The news release continues, in full:

The four affected tigers live in the zoo’s Tiger Mountain exhibit. One male Amur tiger that also lives at Tiger Mountain has not exhibited any clinical signs, and a Malayan tiger and two Amur tigers at the zoo’s Wild Asia exhibit have also not exhibited any clinical signs.

None of the zoo’s snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopard, Amur leopard, puma or serval are showing any signs of illness. Our cats were infected by a person caring for them who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms. Appropriate preventive measures are now in place for all staff who are caring for them, and the other cats in our four WCS zoos, to prevent further exposure of any other of our zoo cats.

We are grateful for the cooperation and support of the New York State Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University and the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, where the initial COVID-19 testing of samples from the tiger were performed; the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory where confirmatory testing was conducted; USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; and the New York and Illinois State Veterinarians and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for their assistance.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. It is believed that the virus was first transferred to people at a food market that trades in wildlife in Wuhan, China. There is no evidence that animals play a role in the transmission of COVID-19 to people other than the initial event in the Wuhan market, and no evidence that any person has been infected with COVID-19 in the US by animals, including by pet dogs or cats.

We will issue additional information as warranted. Our four zoos and aquarium have been temporarily closed since March 16.

You can read the WCS newsroom release, here.

[featured image source: Bronx Zoo / Facebook]

Also published on Medium.

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