Thousands of Captive Tigers in US at Risk of Coronavirus

Captive tigers face danger, particularly in zoos with less space, poorer conditions and less available medical care, experts warn

File Image: Portrait of tiger lying down
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What's next, social distancing for big cats? Zookeepers demanding personal protective equipment?

In a word, yes. COVID-19, the illness that has cut a swath through the globe's human population, is threatening tigers, too, and even lions, experts say.

Those at greatest risk of catching the virus, according to animal welfare experts, are the thousands of tigers living in unregulated zoos and private captivity across the United States.

More than 5,000 tigers live in captivity in the U.S., with as few as 6% of them in accredited zoos — the fruits of an illicit market that was placed under global scrutiny by the Netflix documentary "Tiger King."

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But even big cats that live in accredited zoos are in danger. Four tigers and three African lions have been diagnosed with COVID-19 at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. Public health officials believe the animals caught it from zookeepers.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com

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