A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City has tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The zoo's chief veterinarian said this is a unique case because the tiger became sick after exposure to an asymptomatic zoo employee.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF VETERINARIAN, BRONX ZOO, PAUL CALLE, SAYING: "This is actually the first time that people have transmitted it to an animal and the animal has gotten sick." The veterinarian said the zoo did not know which employee infected the tiger.
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.
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.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF VETERINARIAN, BRONX ZOO, PAUL CALLE, SAYING: "What the keeper saw was these cats were coughing some were wheezing.
And when Nadia had that for a few days and then started going off food, we immobilized her, which is an anesthesia procedure in order to treat her and to find out what was wrong." Nadia underwent X-rays, an ultrasound and blood tests to try to figure out what was ailing her.
They decided to test for COVID-19 given the surge in cases in New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the zoo, said all of the cats are expected to recover.