Bronx Zoo tiger tested positive for COVID-19. What does it mean?

Here at CAWSEL we’ve gathered some facts about the recent news confirming that Nadiaa, a Malayan tiger at Bronx Zoo in New York has tested positive for COVID-19.
The news was covered world wide in publications such as National Geographic, BBC News, The New York Times to name but a few. From information gathered via One Health and through research, CAWSEL Ambassador Tara Gaab, has collated the presently known facts:
Different tiger pictured. Photo form Pixabay
  • This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in an animal in the US. Though all species of animals have their own versions of coronavirus that result in a variety of clinical signs, this is the first confirmed COVID-19 case specifically in an animal in the United States.
  • Multiple animals in the exhibit were reported to be exhibiting similar clinical signs, but only one animal was tested. Because the nature of the test requires the animal to be under anaesthesia, the veterinarians involved in this case felt that anesthetizing every animal with clinical signs was an unnecessary potential risk to their welfare, so only one tiger was tested and subsequently confirmed positive.
  • It’s likely that these animals were exposed to the virus by a zoo worker who was actively shedding the virus.
  • This does NOT mean that animals can give COVID-19 to humans. It also does NOT mean that every animal can be infected with COVID-19 by humans with the disease. Further research needs to be done on both fronts to determine those answers.
Subsequently, this does NOT mean that people need to be getting rid of/pre-emptively euthanizing their pets.
As a side-note, it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan for your pet(s) if you become sick and cannot take care of them. Reach out to family members, friends, neighbours & your veterinarian to make sure that someone will be able to care for your pet in the event that you cannot safely do so.
  • There will NOT be mass-testing of animals. If someone believes their animal is exhibiting signs that may indicated a COVID-19 infection (fever & dry cough are the two big ones), then they need to contact their veterinarian. The veterinarian must then contact their state animal health officials, and together they will decide if that animal needs to be tested.
Read the official USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Statement here:

Zoos go virtual!

A number of museums, galleries and zoos all over the world offer the opportunity for the larger audience to get a glimpse into the day to day life of their animals, witness their conservation projects or simply ‘wander around’ the virtual galleries. With social distancing and isolation in place across the world during these times of global pandemic, a large number of these organisations are closing their doors for the foreseeable future, but what better way to keep us busy than tapping into the stream of virtual engagement tools!
Here are a few such websites:

In search of health and ‘hoppiness’!

CAWSEL Ambassador and PhD Candidate at Murdoch University, Jess Rendle shares insight into her PhD work


Kangaroos and wallabies, collectively known as macropods, are found in zoos all over the world. But, for reasons that are not yet clear, these animals suffer with a condition that seriously affects their welfare – ‘lumpy jaw’. Lumpy jaw is a bacterial infection of the oral cavity that is distinguished by characteristic proliferation of the jawbones.The condition is painful, difficult to treat, and often results in the death of the animal. Lumpy jaw is frequently found in zoo macropods, but is rare in the wild. It is therefore suggested that aspects of macropod captivity may be associated with the occurrence of lumpy jaw.

My PhD is investigating the extent of the lumpy jaw problem in zoos across Australia and Europe, where macropods are popular exhibits. I am also investigating aspects of macropod housing and husbandry that may influence the development of this painful condition. Results from this research will be used to develop new husbandry guidelines for the care of macropods with the aim of reducing incidence of lumpy jaw and subsequently improving the health and welfare of one of Australia’s most iconic species.


If you would like to discuss her work or any aspect of CAWSEL, contact Jess via email:


Animal welfare in zoos

zoo_animals_SHblogAuthor Dr Sonya P. Hill


When did you last visit a zoo? Perhaps it was in your childhood, or more recently? You might have seen a range of enclosure styles, such as large naturalistic habitats, designed to provide animals with a wide range of choices and opportunities to access resources that are important to them, or more old-fashioned, ‘traditional’ zoo enclosures, with very unnatural-looking features, few retreat areas for the animals, and limited space. What can we infer about an animal’s welfare from looking at its enclosure and the resources provided? What other, animal-based indicators do we need to use when assessing welfare scientifically in zoos, and what kinds of challenges do we need to overcome in order to do so?

In my research, I use an evidence-based approach to investigate the welfare of a range of zoo-housed species, with the goal of continuous improvement. Responsible zoos should be providing the best possible conditions for the animals living there, as well as making meaningful contributions to conservation efforts in the wild and providing a good visitor experience; the welfare of zoo animals impacts on both of these areas as well. Some of my work focuses on the assessment of targeted housing and husbandry techniques, aimed at providing animals with appropriate resources, behavioural opportunities, choices and complexity.

You can find out more about my work HERE.