Coronavirus: LA Zoo taking extra precautions after first known COVID-19 case confirmed in an animal in US

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for coronavirus, the Los Angeles Zoo announced it is taking additional safety measures to protect the health of animals and workers amid the outbreak.

The L.A. Zoo says it is not testing any of its big cats because none of the animals are showing any coroanvirus symptoms. But workers there are now using personal protective equipment and practicing social distancing with animals.

Other groups like Big Cat Sanctuary in San Diego County are also taking steps to stay safe.

"Practicing social distancing with the animals. We're gonna try to stay 6 feet from the animals, having a mask when we're working with the animals and each other," one Big Cat Sanctuary official said. "Just like everybody else, lots of training, and just try to do the best we can."

The infected tiger at the Bronx Zoo, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger named Nadia, developed a dry cough and a decrease in appetite. She was tested out of an abundance of caution, and the results were confirmed by the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa, the Wildlife Conservation Society said.

RELATED: Tiger at Bronx Zoo in New York City tests positive for coronavirus

Her sister Azul, two Amur tigers and three African lions also showed coronavirus symptoms, but all of the cats, including Nadia, are expected to recover.

The zoo said the cats were infected by a person caring for them who had COVID-19 but was asymptomatic or had not yet developed symptoms.

All of the cats are expected to survive.

It is unknown how the disease develops in big cats. There is also no evidence that animals can infect people with the virus.

Dr. Paula Cannon, of Keck School of Medicine of USC, said a human virus infecting animals is not surprising, and to be cautious, those who have contracted COVID-19 or are showing symptoms should keep pets at a distance as a precaution.

The tiger's case is believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the U.S. or a tiger anywhere.

The zoo's' director, Jim Breheny, said he hoped the finding can contribute to the global fight against the virus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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