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.
Was the tiger coughing? Did it have a fever? Was it feeling fatigued?— Nori J (@j_cabrillavuela) April 6, 2020
How in the hell did this tiger get a test. It’s not like he walked into a hospital with a high fever, cough, loss of taste and smell and unable to breath. WTF https://t.co/naQGoi75lH— Tom Colicchio (@tomcolicchio) April 6, 2020
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.
How did the tiger get tested?— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) April 6, 2020
So a tiger got tested for coronavirus but we can’t do random population sample antibody tests on PEOPLE?! Got it.— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) April 5, 2020
BREAKING:A Tiger in the Bronx Zoo just tested POSITIVE for COVID19.....That’s right a TIGER got a test?!Do we have a shortage or not? Riddle me that!RT!#coronavirus #Covid_19 #CoronavirusPandemic— Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) April 5, 2020
How is a damn tiger getting a test, yet I personally know 4 people exposed with symptoms that cannot get tested? #COVID19 #WhereAreTheTests https://t.co/bpbi3qwSYA— Ern D (@orendorkdigger) April 6, 2020
Was the tiger a Republican? Is that how he got tested?— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) April 6, 2020
How did a tiger get tested for Corona but I’m supposed to ‘wait it out’ like I took too many drugs at a house party— Amber Nelson (@AmberSmelson) April 5, 2020
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)