A Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo. Image: WCS/Julie Larsen

Tiger at Bronx Zoo Catches COVID-19

The cat was infected by a human. There’s no evidence cats will transmit coronavirus back to humans, but CDC urges caution with pets if you have COVID-19.

Robert Roy Britt
3 min readApr 5, 2020


One or more tigers and other large cats at the Bronx Zoo in New York have contracted COVID-19 from a human caretaker who had the disease but who did not have symptoms, zoo officials announced today.

One Malayan tiger, a 4-year old female named Nadia, tested positive for the disease. “Her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions had developed a dry cough and all are expected to recover,” according to the Bronx Zoo statement, suggesting those cats, too, had COVID-19.

“Our cats were infected by a person caring for them who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms,” according to the statement. “Appropriate preventive measures are now in place for all staff who are caring for them, and the other cats in our four WCS zoos, to prevent further exposure of any other of our zoo cats.”

It was thought possible

A recent study out of China indicates SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, can spread to cats, while finding dogs are not likely susceptible.

“We found that SARS-CoV-2 replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks, but efficiently in ferrets and cats,” the researchers said. The study involved infections initiated in high doses in labs, however, and has yet to be formally peer-reviewed.

Commenting on that study, virologist Linda Saif of Ohio State University told Nature: “There is no direct evidence that the infected cats secreted enough coronavirus to pass it on to people,”

SARS-CoV-2 almost surely originated in bats, as have other coronaviruses that have made the jump to humans, scientists say. The main form of transmission for COVID-19 now is from humans to humans, however.

The cats are OK

“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,” according…



Robert Roy Britt

Founder/editor of Wise & Well on Medium & the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com & author of Make Sleep Your Superpower amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB