Tiger at Tennessee zoo tests positive for COVID-19

Tiger at Tennessee zoo tests positive for COVID-19
Three year old Malayan tiger Arya arrived at Zoo Knoxville Thursday, Jan. 26 2017. Arya was born at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in California and comes to Tennessee as part of the Malayan tiger Species Survival Plan. (WVLT) (Source: WVLT)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A tiger at Zoo Knoxville has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Bashir, an 11-year-old male tiger tested positive for the virus. Arya, a 6-year-old female and Tanvir, an 11-year-old male, were also exhibiting symptoms and presumed positive.

All three tigers are now in isolation and being cared for by the veterinary team from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Zoo Knoxville said the tigers are alert, active and no longer exhibiting symptoms.

According to a release, “The tigers will be released from quarantine once they are symptom-free for 72 hours and either all diagnostic tests are negative or 14 days have passed since the last positive test in accordance with CDC guidelines.”

Investigators are working to learn how the tigers became infected, but suspect an asymptomatically infected staff member working in close proximity to the tigers when caring for them could have exposed them to the virus.

No other animals at Zoo Knoxville have shown signs of illness, officials said.

“Zoo Knoxville’s safety protocols include the use of protective gear while caring for animals, and this was standard practice before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said a release.

A Zoo Knoxville officials said regularly testing the tigers for SARS-CoV-2 is not advised due to the need to sedate the animals to administer the test.

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