Can Animals Get Covid-19 from Us? A Tiger Tests Positive of Coronavirus at NYC Zoo


Can Animals Get Covid-19 from Us? A Tiger Tests Positive of Coronavirus at NYC Zoo

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City has tested positive for the new coronavirus, in what is believed to be the first known infection in a wild animal.

While the tiger, named Nadia, has tested positive, six other tigers and lions at the zoo are also showing symptoms – they’ve developed a dry cough and decrease in appetite. It is believed that they have been infected by an asymptomatic zoo worker. “It’s the first time, to our knowledge, that a [wild] animal has gotten sick from COVID-19 from a person,” Paul Calle, chief veterinarian for the Bronx Zoo told National Geographic.

Many social media users asked why tigers were being tested when millions of poor people can’t afford to get tested.

Dr. Paul Calle clarified that the COVID-19 testing of the Malayan tiger Nadia was performed in a veterinary school laboratory and is not the same test as is used for people. “You cannot send human samples to the veterinary laboratory, and you cannot send animal tests to the human laboratories, so there is no competition for testing between these very different situations,” he explained.

Thankfully, Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions are all expected to recover and be fine.

According to the Nat Geo report, several domestic animals have tested positive for Covid-19, including a Pomernanian and German Shepherd in Hong Kong and the cat in Belgium

The American Veterinary Medical Association says its guidance has not changed. If you have COVID-19, restrict contact with your pets as you would with humans. If you are NOT showing symptoms, interact with your pets as usual.

However, there is zero evidence that pets (or tigers) can transmit the virus to humans. DO NOT panic dump your pets, is the call from experts.

One netizen saw the funny side of it, invoking a Tiger King reference.

I guess there is wisdom in staying six-feet away from a tiger as well.