The Bronx Zoo announced over the weekend that a Malayan tiger, Nadia, tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It is one of the first known cases of an animal testing positive for COVID-19 and the first in the United States, though it is not believed that animals can transfer the virus to humans.
Following the announcement of Nadia’s diagnosis, there were complaints on social media regarding a tiger being tested while there is a shortage of tests for residents in the city.
Many people were questioning why a “coronavirus test” would be used on a tiger instead of one of the millions of Americans waiting to be tested, including New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres.
“A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has more access to testing than the people of the South Bronx, where the risk of dying from COVID-19 is twice as high as the rest of the City,” Torres wrote on social media.
However, this shows a complete lack of understanding of how testing works. So to clear up any confusion, the Bronx Zoo issued a statement explaining the testing procedure and assured everyone that the testing was not the same kind used to detect COVID-19 in humans.
“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,” Bronx Zoo chief veterinarian Dr. Paul 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.”
Five other big cats are also suffering from symptoms of the coronavirus, but they are all expected to fully recover, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The Bronx Zoo has been closed since March 16.