Knoxville, Tenn. (Oct. 30, 2020) –One of Zoo Knoxville’s Malayan tigers has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the same virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.
Arya, a 6-year-old female and Bashir and Tanvir, 11-year-old males, exhibited mild coughing, lethargy and decrease in appetite, and were tested for a range of potential causes, including SARS-CoV-2. The initial test results for Bashir and Arya were communicated by the Runstadler Lab at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, Massachusetts. Samples from Bashir have been confirmed as positive by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories, based in Ames, Iowa, and confirmatory testing for the other two tigers is in process, but they are presumed positive.
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. Arya, Bashir and Tanvir are being cared for by the veterinary team from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and are alert, active and no longer exhibiting symptoms.
Zoo Knoxville is working with state and local animal and human health agencies to determine the source of the infection, which at this time is suspected to be an asymptomatically infected staff member working in close proximity to the tigers when caring for them.
No other animals at Zoo Knoxville have shown signs of illness. 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. All zoo staff follow COVID safety protocols recommended by the CDC and the Tennessee Pledge.