A tiger in a New York zoo has tested positive for coronavirus and three others are showing symptoms of the highly contagious respiratory infection.
Nadia, a four-year-old female Malayan tiger, and three African lions had developed a dry cough at the Bronx Zoo located within the Bronx Park.
All four big cats are expected to recover.
The US Department of Agriculture, which confirmed Nadia’s test result at its veterinary lab, believes it is the first known infection in an animal in the US or a tiger anywhere in the world.
The cats experienced some decrease in appetite but are otherwise “doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert and interactive with their keepers”.
“We tested the cat [Nadia] 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,” the zoo said.
The zoo said it will continue to monitor the cats closely and anticipate full recoveries, adding that none of the zoo’s snow leopards, cheetah’s clouded leopard, Amur leopard puma or serval are showing any signs of illness.
Coronavirus has infected more than 1.2 million people across the world and at least 69,451 have died with the disease.
It is believed the virus was first transferred to people at a food market that trades wildlife in Wuhan, China.
The zoo’s statement added: “There is no evidence that animals play a role in the transmission of COVID-19 to people other than the initial event in the Wuhan market, and no evidence that any person has been infected with COVID-19 in the US by animals, including by pet dogs or cats.”
The number of cases across the US climbed to at least 331,151 on Sunday with around 9,441 fatalities, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
New York, the hardest-hit state, reported that deaths had fallen slightly from the day before in the first time for a week, but there were still nearly 600 new fatalities and more than 7,300 cases.