A four-year-old Malayan female tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for coronavirus.
The tiger, called Nadia, is believed to be the first known instance of a human infected animal with Covid-19.
The Bronx Zoo in New York City says the findings of the study have been checked by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.
Nadia, along with six other big animals, is believed to have been poisoned by an asymptomatic zoo keeper.
The cats began showing symptoms, including dry cough, late last month after exposure to an unidentified employee.
“It is the first time that all of us have learned anywhere in the world that a human contaminated the animal and the animal got ill,” Paul Calle, chief veterinarian at the zoo, told Reuters news agency on Sunday.
He said that he plans to share the findings with other zoos and organizations studying the transmission of Covid-19.
Tiger King Star In Virus Isolation, husband says Pangolins carry strains related to the new coronavirus “We tested the cat [Nadia] out of abundance of caution and will ensure that any knowledge we gain about Covid-19 will contribute to the world’s continued understanding of this novel coronavirus,” the zoo said in a statement.
Nadia, her sister Azul, as well as two Amur tigers and three African lions with symptoms, are all expected to recover completely, the zoo said.
Big cats had some loss of appetite, but “otherwise they are doing well under veterinary treatment and are lively, alert, and engaging with their keepers,” he said.
The zoo said it is not clear whether the virus will evolve in animals such as tigers and lions because different species will respond differently to new infections, but all animals will be closely monitored.