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Here’s What’s Going on With the Bronx Zoo Tiger Who Tested Positive for COVID-19

Spencer PlattGetty Images

On April 5, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo said in a statement that Nadia, a four-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, tested positive for COVID-19. The test was confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory, based in Ames, Iowa.

Animal Planet provided People with an update that appears on the episode of The Zoo on Saturday night. In it, the Bronx Zoo’s chief veterinarian, Paul Calle, gives a 10-minute update on how Nadia and the other tigers at the zoo with coughs are doing.

“None of them were seriously ill and all of them are showing daily, progressive signs of improvement,” Calle says in the special. “We expect full recoveries for all of them.”

Calle adds in the special that the professionals working with the cats are learning as they go: “This wasn’t supposed to happen to lions, and tigers, and other big cats, so now we are writing the book about what happens when a lion or tiger gets infected by COVID, and we have shared the information so everyone can benefit.”

The veterinarian said the zoo “is sure it is a person” who gave coronavirus, which causes the deadly illness COVID-19, to the tiger.

The Bronx zoo is increasing its “preventative protocols” for the cats and has been practicing social distancing protocols for the zoo’s smaller cats, too.

The United States Department of Agriculture released a statement about Nadia’s positive test result.

“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread COVID-19 infection to people,” the statement said. It continued: “This is an evolving situation, however, routine testing of zoo or personal animals is not recommended at this time. Public and animal health officials may decide to test certain animals that are showing signs of illness and that are known to have been exposed to the virus.”

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