Covid-19 and Big Cats

One of the tigers at the Bronx Zoo. Credit: National Geographic

Over the weekend, a four-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for Covid-19. The tiger, along with six other big cats, including three other tigers and three lions, had been displaying symptoms similar to those displayed by humans infected with Covid-19, including a dry cough. A positive test for Covid-19 was confirmed by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

Here is the statement released by the Wildlife Conservation Society, who runs the Bronx Zoo and also supports IRDNC’s human-wildlife conflict Rapid Response Teams. All seven big cats appear to have been infected by a zoo keeper and all are expected to recover fully.

As soon as the information became available, the University of Minnesota Lion Center informed its partners in the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism about this potential threat to Namibia’s big cats. Currently efforts are underway to disseminate this information to relevant stakeholders across Namibia. The Lion Rangers and all of their partners are committed to ensuring that the risks to lions, as well as big cats and other wildlife, is minimized as much as possible at this time of global uncertainty. Ever necessary precaution will be taken to ensure that Covid-19 is not transferred to the big cats that we take responsibility for working with and conserving.

Two male lions at the Bronx Zoo. Source: Bronx Zoo Instagram

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