MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Two tigers at Zoo Miami have tested negative for COVID-19, after showing symptoms that could be associated with the virus, according to Zoo Communications Director Ron Magill.

Magill says the two Sumatran tigers, one female and one male, were immobilized on Wednesday to administer COVID-19 tests, under the supervision of Zoo Miami’s Animal Health team, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

The symptoms included nasal discharge, lethargy and a loss of appetite.  Though the symptoms could also be associated with a variety of other conditions, because of the ongoing pandemic, combined with the demonstrated ability for tigers to contract the disease, the tests were administered in an abundance of caution, said Magill.

A Sumatran tiger at Zoo Miami undergoes a COVID-19 test on April 23, 2020. It came back negative. (Courtesy: Ron Magill/Zoo Miami)

The tests required several nasal, eye, throat, and rectal swabs from which samples were sent to a state lab for evaluation.  These tests were not the same given to humans and therefore did not utilize any of the kits that are earmarked for human testing.

Both tests came back negative.


The zoo is currently waiting for the results of several other tests that were also give to see if a determination could be made as to why the tigers are exhibiting the described symptoms.  The Animal Health team explained that it could be a wide variety of causes ranging from allergies to a common cold.

Zoo Miami staff is being extremely vigilant in monitoring all its animals in light of this pandemic and the new information regarding an animal’s ability to contract this disease.

Magill says, “We are taking a wide variety of measures to protect not only the animals at the zoo, but also the dedicated frontline staff that is caring for them each day.  Administering these tests on our tigers is an example of our commitment to both.”

Eight big cats at the Bronx Zoo have tested positive for the coronavirus including tigers and lions. Nearly all showed symptoms and one tiger, showed no symptom.

The Bronx Zoo said the cats were infected by a staff member who was positive but at the time showed no symptoms.