As an antidote to the collective stress the nation is feeling about the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of people are tuning into the escapist entertainment of “Tiger King.” The inhumane treatment of tigers is on many people’s minds as a result of the Netflix series, and now we’re learning about yet another tiger tragedy.
Nadia, a four-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, is believed to be the first known case of an animal in the US infected with the virus. The zoo believes Nadia as well as six other big cats contracted the virus from an asymptomatic human zookeeper.
Per BBC.com, "We tested the cat [Nadia] out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about Covid-19 will contribute to the world's continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus," the zoo said in a statement.
Nadia, her sister Azul, as well as two Amur tigers and three African lions who showed symptoms, are all expected to make a full recovery.
But here’s an interesting question for everyone to ponder. Apparently, we have a nationwide shortage of Covid-19 tests for American humans. How is it that animals in the zoo move to the head of the line?
Clearly there’s a lot we do not yet know about this virus and its transmission. Last week, a cat in Belgium tested positive for the coronavirus — apparently after catching the virus from its owner.
And a new study from China (like we should believe it), found cats can pass the virus on to each other. However other animals, like dogs, chicken, ducks and pigs are not likely to catch or spread Covid-19.
“We found that SARS-CoV-2 replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks, but efficiently in ferrets and cats,” reads a summary of the study. “We found that the virus transmits in cats via respiratory droplets.”
In another interesting development, Shenzhen has become the first city in China to ban eating cats and dogs. After the virus was linked to “wildlife meat” — i.e. bats —Chinese authorities banned the trade and consumption of wild animals.
But only Shenzhen so far has extended that ban to consumption of the family cat and dog.
However, at the same time, China has approved the use of bear bile to treat coronavirus patients.
Bear bile is a digestive fluid drained from living captive bears, and has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. The BBC reports there is no proof that bear bile is effective against the coronavirus and “the process is painful and distressing” for the bears. GEE, ya think?
Let’s talk about “painful and distressing.” It’s painful and distressing waiting for the government and giant corporations to stop dithering about the production of masks and other protective garments for our healthcare professionals and first responders. But that’s another story…