Tigers, lions catch COVID-19 at New York zoo: What that means for your pets’ risk

Tiger at Bronx Zoo reportedly tests positive for coronavirus

ORLANDO, Fla. — New questions have been raised about COVID-19 and our pets after four tigers and three lions tested positive for the virus at New York City’s Bronx Zoo.

There's no evidence a domestic animal or pet has infected a person anywhere, but right now, experts say, until we know more, if you have a pet or pets, to limit our contact to just those animals.

Officials at the Bronx Zoo are still uncertain how its 4-year-old Malaysian tiger Nadia was infected with COVID-19.

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“We know it’s human to lion and tiger, but don’t know the specifics,” said chief veterinarian Dr. Paul Calle.

It’s believed after an asymptomatic caretaker infected Nadia and the cat passed the virus on to her sister. In all seven big cats tested positive and developed symptoms. All are expected to recover.

But it is the first noted example of a person infecting an animal and that animal getting sick.

Dr. Doug Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, is tracking all the data as it comes in.

Two dogs and a cat in Hong Kong and a cat in Belgium all tested positive for COVID-19, but all were being taken care of by someone who had the virus.

Kratt said there are still no reports that any pets in the U.S. having the virus.

But he recommends if you have symptoms, see if someone else can care for your pet and if that’s not possible, wear a mask and wash your hands.

“Don’t try to get too close to their nose, their mouth, to their eyes. Feed them, take care of them, but don’t do a lot of snuggling,” Kratt said.

A car enters the Bronx Zoo on April 06, 2020 in New York City. A tiger at the zoo has tested positive for COVID-19, the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement Sunday. The tiger, a 4-year-old named Nadia, had developed a dry cough and a decrease in appetite. Results from a test, which were confirmed by the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory, showed that she had contracted the virus, most likely from a zoo worker.
A car enters the Bronx Zoo on April 06, 2020 in New York City. A tiger at the zoo has tested positive for COVID-19, the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement Sunday. The tiger, a 4-year-old named Nadia, had developed a dry cough and a decrease in appetite. Results from a test, which were confirmed by the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory, showed that she had contracted the virus, most likely from a zoo worker. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)