The coronavirus test administered to the Bronx Zoo tiger that tested positive for the illness is different from ones given to humans, according to the zoo’s chief veterinarian.
“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,” Dr. Paul Calle said in a statement tweeted Sunday night.
“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.”
After the Wildlife Conservation Society revealed Nadia’s diagnosis on Sunday, many people on social media, including city politicians, expressed frustration that an animal had testing access while many humans haven’t been so fortunate.
“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,” City Councilman Ritchie Torres tweeted.
Nadia, and five other big cats that developed a dry cough, are expected to recover, the WCS said.
None of the other cats at the zoo, which includes leopards, cheetahs, and pumas, have shown symptoms, the society said.
Zoo officials said they hope Nadia’s diagnosis “will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus.”
The zoo has been closed since March 16 due to the spread of the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, animals can become infected by the coronavirus, but scientists don’t believe they can spread the bug to humans.