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'My Son Can't Get Tested': US Netizens Fume after Bronx Zoo Tiger Tests COVID-19 Positive

A 4-year-old tiger called Nadia has tested positive in Bronx Zoo in New York along with three African lions | Image credit: Reuters

A 4-year-old tiger called Nadia has tested positive in Bronx Zoo in New York along with three African lions | Image credit: Reuters

Many expressed anger about the fact that in US, it was easier for a tiger to get tested for coronavirus than humans after a Bronx Zoo tiger tested COVID-19 positive.

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, the zoo's chief veterinarian said on Sunday.

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, the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the zoo, said in a statement. All of the cats are expected to recover, it said.

The infection of the cats, however, caused quite a bit of alarm as well as nervous humour on social media. Many wondered what prompted those to in charge of the tiger to get it tested. In fact, many wondered if the tigers were heard coughing, one of the first symptoms of coronavirus in humans.

Many others expressed anger about the fact that in the United States, it was apparently easier for a tiger to get tested for coronavirus than humans.

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, told Reuters. Calle said they did not know which employee infected the tiger.

“This is the first time that any of us know of anywhere in the world that a person infected the animal and the animal got sick,” Calle said, adding that they planned to share the findings with other zoos and institutions. "Hopefully we will all have a better understanding as a result."

On Monday, the US recorded over 9,600 deaths due to coronavirus and over 3 lakh cases.

(With inputs from Reuters)