Coronavirus: 11-year-old tiger at Zoo Knoxville tests positive

Tiger at Zoo Knoxville tests positive for coronavirus

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A tiger at Zoo Knoxville has tested positive for a virus that causes COVID-19, zoo officials said.

Bashir, an 11-year-old male at the eastern Tennessee zoo, tested positive after showing symptoms common in infected humans, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

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The United States Department of Agriculture’s national veterinary lab in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the positive test for SARS-CoV-2, according to a news release from Zoo Knoxville.

According to zoo officials, two other tigers -- Tanvir, an 11-year-old male, and Arya, a 6-year-old female -- “exhibited mild coughing, lethargy and decrease in appetite,” zoo officials said. The animals were tested for several causes, including SARS-CoV-2.

The zoo is awaiting the test results for the other two tigers, WBIR reported.

The tigers will be quarantined until they are symptom-free for 72 hours, and either all diagnostic tests are negative or 14 days have passed since the last positive test, zoo officials said in their release.

The tigers are being monitored by members of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. The animals are described as “alert, active and no longer exhibiting symptoms.”

No other animals at the zoo have exhibited symptoms, zoo officials said.

The release noted that an asymptomatic staff member could have passed the virus to the animals, but zoo officials said they are not sure at this point.

"Based on limited information available to date, the risk of animals, including these tigers, spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to people is low,” the release stated.

Nadia, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, tested positive for the virus in April. It was the first known infection in an animal or a tiger anywhere, according to The Associated Press.

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