A FOUR-year-old female tiger named Nadia who lives in the Bronx Zoo became the first animal to test positive for the novel coronavirus in the United States after developing a “dry cough,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement.
The test result stunned zoo officials: “I couldn’t believe it,” director Jim Breheny said. But he hopes the finding can contribute to the global fight against the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Any kind of knowledge that we get on how it’s transmitted, how different species react to it, that knowledge somehow is going to provide a greater base resource for people,” he said in an interview.
“The finding raises new questions about transmission of the virus in animals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which confirmed Nadia’s test result at its veterinary lab, said there are no known cases of the virus in U.S. pets or livestock.’
“There doesn’t appear to be, at this time, any evidence that suggests that the animals can spread the virus to people or that they can be a source of the infection in the United States,” Dr. Jane Rooney, a veterinarian and a USDA official.
The zoo emphasised that 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.”
In late March a pet cat was discovered infected with the novel coronavirus in Belgium, following similar cases in Hong Kong where two dogs tested positive for Covid-19. All of those animals are believed to have contracted the virus from the people they live with.
The Bronx zoo said preventative measures were in place for caretakers as well as all cats in the city’s zoos.