A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday after human to cat transmission, in what officials say is “the first case of its kind.”

Seven big cats in the zoo’s Tiger Mountain exhibit, including two Malayan tigers, two Amur tigers, and three African lions developed a dry cough, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. One cat was tested, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia, and officials have taken her positive test as a confirmation that all of these big cats with symptoms have been infected. The zoo’s other big cats in other exhibits, like the snow leopards and cheetahs, do not have any symptoms. All of the infected animals are predicted to recover.

“Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus,” the United States Department of Agriculture said in a statement. The zoo has been closed to the public since March 16, but zoo employees, deemed essential workers, have been reporting to work to take care of the animals.

This is the first case in the United States where a human has passed the virus to an animal. The coronavirus was thought to have originally passed from animal to human in a live exotic meat market in Wuhan, China.

There have been no cases of pets getting the novel virus from their owners in the United States, but still the USDA said that people with COVID-19 should limit their interactions with animals.

“Anyone sick with COVID-19 should restrict contact with animals, out of an abundance of caution including pets, during their illness, just as they would with other people,” the statement said. The USDA said that if sick owners are the only people available to take care of a pet, they should wash their hands before and after every interaction.


If you believe your pet shows symptoms of the virus after being exposed, the USDA said to contact your veterinary clinic, and they will decide on the next steps.