Minnesota tiger tests positive for coronavirus

A tiger in Minnesota has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH) said Tuesday.

The 21-year-old female Sumatran/Bengal tiger lives in The Wildcat Sanctuary in Pine County.

BAH said staff first noticed lions, tigers and cougars displaying symptoms earlier this month. Shortly after, the veterinarian consulted state animal health officials about testing for the coronavirus before results were officially confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"This marks only the second confirmed captive or domestic animal case of SARS-CoV-2 in the state," State Veterinarian Dr. Beth Thompson said. "It’s a good reminder that the virus can be transmitted from people to animals. We appreciate the veterinarians in the state who contact our office to discuss testing and surveillance of exposed and symptomatic animals so we can investigate with our state and federal partners."

While people with COVID-19 can spread the virus to animals during close contact, there’s no evidence that animals can pass the virus to humans, State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Joni Scheftel said. Still, the Minnesota Department of Health is working closely with The Wildcat Sanctuary — which is closed to the public — to monitor the situation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has resources available for anyone interested in COVID-19 and animals online.