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Tiger at the Bronx Zoo tests positive for COVID-19 after developing dry cough

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Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City has tested positive for COVID-19.

The animal reportedly developed a dry cough before receiving a test.

What are the details?

The United States Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories reported that the tiger is thought to be the first animal known to be infected with the virus in the U.S.

The USDA expects the tiger to fully recover, and believes that the cat likely contracted the virus via an infected zoo employee.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the tiger is called Nadia, and is a 4-year-old Malayan tiger. Nadia wasn't the only one to develop the dry cough — her sister, Azul, two other tigers, and three lions also exhibited the symptoms.

The USDA reports that because the animals must be put under general anesthesia in order to receive the test, the zoo's veterinarian opted out of testing the other affected animals.

In a statement, the Wildlife Conservation Society said, "We tested the cat 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. Though they have experienced some decrease in appetite, the cats at the Bronx Zoo are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers."

The statement continued, "It is not known how this disease will develop in big cats since different species can react differently to novel infections, but we will continue to monitor them closely and anticipate full recoveries."

Anything else?

Bronx Zoo Chief Veterinarian Paul Calle said that Americans should not be concerned about a large cat receiving a COVID-19 test while the rest of the country struggles during a shortage of such tests.

"The COVID-19 testing that was performed on our Malayan tiger Nadia was performed in a veterinary school laboratory, and is not the same test as is used for people," Calle said in a statement. "You cannot send human samples to the veterinary laboratory, and you cannot send animal tests to the human laboratories, so there is no competition for testing between these very different situations."

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