New York City, US, Apr 22 (efe-epa).- Seven more big cats have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, the wildlife center announced on Wednesday, weeks after a Malayan tiger at the facility was confirmed positive and six other cats were said to be exhibiting similar symptoms.
On Apr. 5, the Wildlife Conservation Society that runs the New York zoo, reported that one tiger had tested positive for the new coronavirus, the first known COVID-19 infection in the animal in the US.
The first big cat, a four-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia, developed a dry cough and loss of appetite in late March, while Nadia’s sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions also showed the same symptoms.
“We can confirm that the three other tigers in Tiger Mountain and the three African lions that exhibited a cough have also tested positive for COVID-19,” the zoo said in a statement Wednesday.
The test was done by using a fecal sample so that the animals did not have to be placed under anesthesia, as with the Malayan tiger.
“The fecal tests confirmed our suspicion that all seven cats had the infection, and also determined that one tiger at Tiger Mountain that never developed a cough was also positive for the disease,” it added.
The wildlife center said that “all eight cats continue to do well. They are behaving normally, eating well, and their coughing is greatly reduced.”
“We tested the tigers and lions out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus,” said the zoo officials.
“The testing of these cats was done in veterinary laboratories and resources used did not take from those being used for human testing,” they added.
It is still believed that the animals were infected by an asymptomatic staff member who had contact with the animals before developing symptoms.
As of Wednesday, two domestic cats in New York state have tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first pet cases detected in the US.
Both animals live in different areas of New York state, the current epicenter of the pandemic not only in the US but worldwide.
They have mild respiratory problems and are expected to recover soon, according to a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories of the Department of Agriculture. EFE-EPA