Tiger Tests Positive For Coronavirus In New York Zoo

File Photo: In this handout photograph taken on June 11, 2019 and released by the Taronga Zoo on July 29, Sumatran tiger Kartika with her seven-month-old cub. RICK STEVENS / TARONGA ZOO / AFP.

 

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York has become the first of its kind to test positive for coronavirus.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed this in a statement published on its official website on Sunday.

The 4-year-old female Malayan tiger, named Nadia, tested positive after showing symptoms of respiratory illness.

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“This is the first instance of a tiger being infected with COVID-19. Samples from this tiger were taken and tested after several lions and tigers at the zoo showed symptoms of respiratory illness.

Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus. The zoo has been closed to the public since mid-March, and the first tiger began showing signs of sickness on March 27.

Six other big cats including Nadia’s sister, two Siberian tigers, and three African lions also had symptoms of the illness, although they have not been tested.

Bronx zoo officials are, however positive that the cats will recover.

“All of these large cats are expected to recover. There is no evidence that other animals in other areas of the zoo are showing symptoms.

“Though they have experienced some decrease in appetite, the cats at the Bronx Zoo are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers,” the zoo said.

The officials warned anyone sick with COVID-19 to restrict contact with animals including pets just as they would with other people.

Why Tiger Widows Of Bangladesh Are Tagged ‘Bad Omen’

In this photograph taken on November 11, 2019, Bangladeshi mother-of-four Mosammat Rashida, whose husband was killed by a Bengal tiger a decade ago while he was collecting honey, stands next to a mirror at her house in Shyamnagar 
Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP

 

Abandoned by her sons, shunned by her neighbours and branded a witch.

Mosammat Rashida’s crime? Her husband was killed by a Bengal tiger.

Women like her are ostracised in many rural villages in Bangladesh, where they are viewed as the cause of their partner’s misfortune.

“My sons have told me that I am an unlucky witch,” she told AFP in her flimsy plank home, in the honey-hunters’ village of Gabura at the edge of the Sundarbans — a 10,000-square-kilometre (3,860-square-mile) mangrove forest that straddles Bangladesh and India.

Her husband died while out collecting honey in the jungles there.

“Honey-hunters prefer to collect honey mostly in the southwestern Sundarbans, where most of the man-eaters (tigers) live,” leading Bengal tiger expert at Jahangirnagar University, Monirul Khan, told AFP.

Tigers are an endangered species but climate change and human development are reducing their wild habitat, often forcing them towards villages in search of food.

Wildlife charities estimate there are some 100 tigers in the Bangladesh side of the Sundarbans.

At least 519 men died from tiger attacks in 50 villages in one district — home to half a million people — between 2001 and 2011, according to Ledars Bangladesh, a charity helping widows reintegrate back in the villages.

Their deaths are a double blow for the women left behind.

Already grieving the loss of their partner, overnight they become ‘tiger widows’ — pariahs in their homes and villages at a time when they most need support.

They are often left with little means to support themselves or their families.

– ‘Bring bad luck’ –

Rashida is heartbroken but unsurprised that her adult sons, aged 24 and 27, abandoned her and their two young siblings.

“They are part of this society after all,” the 45-year-old said, as she wiped tears from her eyes.

Her tiny shack has no roof — it was blown off by a deadly cyclone — but there have been no offers of help from neighbours or officials, who she claims helped others in the village but shunned her.

Instead, she uses an old tarpaulin to keep the elements out.

Next door, Mohammad Hossain was fixing his broken tin roof and confessed he had been instructed by his wife not to talk to Rashida.

“It would mar my family’s well-being and could bring bad luck,” the 31-year-old honey-hunter said.

Officials denied omitting Rashida from the help they provided after the cyclone.

But the head of Ledars Bangladesh, Mohon Kumar Mondal, said the mistreatment of “tiger widows” was widespread in highly conservative communities, which often held “centuries-old” prejudices.

“They (charities) are working to restore the widows’ dignities. The main challenge is to change people’s beliefs,” he explained.

“The change is very slow. Still, I’d say there has been progress,” he added, noting that younger, more educated villagers were less fearful of the widows.

n this photograph taken on November 11, 2019, “tiger widow” Rijia Khatun, whose husband was killed by a Bengal tiger 15 years ago while he was collecting honey, sits in her house in Shyamnagar.
Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP

– ‘Staying alive’ –

Rijia Khatun, who said she has learnt to cope with being ostracised by her fellow villagers after her honey-hunter husband’s death 15 years ago, has been secretly supported by her nephew and his family.

“My sons were young. But nobody helped me. I felt bad at first as they kept blaming me for my husband’s death. I didn’t know what was my fault,” she recalled, adding: “But now I’ve learnt to live with this adversity.”

Her nephew Yaad Ali, who has witnessed several attacks including his uncle’s, explained that while he wanted to help, he could not do so publicly.

“We had to do it (help Khatun) with confidentiality or else the village society would have ostracised us as well,” he confessed.

Honey hunting has traditionally been seen as a more accessible vocation for villagers who can’t afford the equipment or boats needed to undertake the region’s other main profession — fishing.

But fears of being killed by the predators — and the consequences for the wives they leave behind — has meant more and more men are opting for a different trade.

Harun ur Rashid, whose father was killed by a tiger, said he was now a fisherman, despite coming from generations of honey-hunters.

The 21-year-old said: “My mother doesn’t want me to end up like my father. And I want to stay alive and take care of her because she has suffered a lot and endured enough abuses after my father’s death.”

AFP

India’s Wild Tiger Population Jumps To Almost 3,000 – Census

This handout photograph taken on June 11, 2019 and released by the Taronga Zoo on July 29 to coincide with International Tiger Day, shows Sumatran tiger Kartika with her seven-month-old cub, one of three born earlier this year, at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. 
RICK STEVENS / TARONGA ZOO / AFP

 

India’s wild tiger population has increased by more than 30 per cent in just four years, according to a new census released Monday, raising hopes for the survival of the endangered species.

The census found 2,967 tigers in the wild across the country, up from 2,226 four years ago in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed as a “historic achievement”

“We reaffirm our commitment towards protecting the tiger,” Modi said in Delhi as he released the All India Tiger Estimation Report 2018.

“Some 15 years ago, there was serious concern about the decline in the population of tigers. It was a big challenge for us but with determination, we have achieved our goals.”

The massive surveys are conducted every four years, with the latest census using 26,000 camera traps that took almost 350,000 images across known tiger habitats, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said at the census release.

Images that showed the big cats were analysed using computer programmes to individually identify each creature. Wildlife and forestry officials also scoured 380,000 square kilometres of terrain.

In 1900, more than 100,000 tigers were estimated to roam the planet. But that fell to a record low of 3,200 globally in 2010.

That year, India and 12 other countries with tiger populations signed an agreement to double their big cat numbers by 2022.

Population numbers in the nation have risen steadily since falling to its lowest-recorded figure of 1,411 in 2006.

But they are yet to return to the figures recorded in 2002 when some 3,700 tigers were estimated to be alive in the country.

It is believed some 40,000 tigers lived in India at the time of independence from Britain in 1947.

Since then, the indiscriminate killing of the animal for its organs has led to a sharp decline, bringing them to the edge of extinction.

India’s growing population has also increasingly eaten into the territory of wild animals, pushing them into conflict with humans.

New Delhi has sought to improve its management of the predator, reserving 50 habitats — from Himalayan foothills in the northeast to regions in west and central India — exclusively for the animals.

Circus Tiger Escapes In Paris

Circus Tiger Escapes In Paris
Police officials and rescue personnel including an official from a circus (R) gather beside a vehicle in Paris on November 24, 2017, after a tiger was shot following its escape in the French capital. Thomas SAMSON / AFP

 

A circus tiger was found wandering the streets of Paris on Friday, affecting public transport and bringing emergency services rushing to the area before being shot dead by its owner who was then taken into custody, French police said.

Firefighters were called shortly before 1700 GMT by people who saw the 200-kilogramme (440-pound) animal wandering around the 15th arrondissement in the southwest of the French capital near the office of France Televisions.

As the story spread on social media, Paris’s transport authority briefly suspended traffic on a tram line in the area, which resumed with police authorisation.

“The owner was in shock. When we arrived the 200-kilogramme tiger was already dead,” Valerian Fuet, a spokesman for the firefighters, told AFP.

The animal was shot in an alley, he said, “it was not in the street, there were no passers-by”.

The tiger had escaped from the Bormann-Moreno circus, which recently moved to the area and planned to open its doors to the public on December 3.

The owner, who was not named, was taken into custody after the event according to a police source. A police investigation has been opened into the incident.

The Brigitte Bardot Foundation, founded by the former screen idol turned animal rights activist, expressed horror and called on Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot to ban the use of animals in circuses.

“It’s a miracle that there weren’t any human victims this time,” the group said in a statement.

“We must react immediately and ban this exploitation of wild animals reduced to slavery”.

Fuet said the tiger’s body must be either taken back to the circus or to a clinic for an autopsy.

AFP

Man survives mauling by tiger in Bronx zoo, charged for misdemeanour trespassing

A New York man named David Villalobos endangered his life in his quest to be one with nature’s pets when he decided to come one on one with a tiger in the Bronx zoo. Luckily for him, rescue came just 10 minutes after he flew into the cage of the male Siberian but not without severe injuries and broken bones.

Police said that Villalobos had told detectives that it was without fear that he leaped from an elevated train into the animal’s den. His reason, they said, was that “he wanted to be one with the tiger.”

Villalobos also recounted how, after he landed on all fours, the 400-pound (18-kilogram) beast attacked him and dragged around by his foot, said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne.

Despite serious injuries, he claimed he was able to get his wish and pet the tiger — a male Siberian named Bashuta — before his rescue, the spokesman said.

Based on those admissions and a complaint from the zoo, police charged the hospitalised Villalobos with misdemeanour trespassing on yesterday. It was unclear if the 25-year-old real estate agent had an attorney, and attempts to reach relatives were unsuccessful.

Police had said earlier that Villalobos admitted to a police officer at the scene that he made a conscious decision to jump — “Everyone has a reason for what they do in life,” he was quoted as saying — but that his motives were murky and an arrest uncertain.

That changed when, during a follow-up interview, Villalobos told detectives that “his leap was definitely not a suicide attempt, but a desire to be one with the tiger,” Browne said.

Browne said Villalobos was charged because he had gone “beyond a perimeter security fence and an electrified wire designed to keep the public out and the tiger in.”

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly described Villalobos’ actions as “foolish,” in part because they put zoo personnel “in harm’s way.”

Villalobos remained hospitalised with bites and punctures on his arms, legs, shoulders and back, as well as a broken right shoulder, right rib, right ankle and pelvis and a collapsed lung. Police said there was no indication he was intoxicated.

The Wild Asia exhibit that’s home to the tiger was operating as usual on Saturday, zoo officials said, declining to comment further.

Villalobos’ Facebook page makes clear his infatuation with wildlife. One of several postings from Thursday was a photo of a tiger licking a cub, and the comment, “Nice.” Another was of a black jaguar.

An earlier post displayed a promo for a movie called “Facing Animals,” a Dutch documentary about “the complex and often bizarre relationship between man and animal.”

His comment: “This looks fascinating.”

 

Villalobos’ own bizarre encounter began with a ride on the elevated train that takes unrestrained visitors over the Bronx River and through a forest, where they glide along the top edge of a fence past elephants, deer and a tiger enclosure. He and a date had taken in the same sights from the monorail during a visit to the zoo about two weeks ago, police said Saturday.

This time without warning, Villalobos apparently jumped out of his train car and cleared the 16-foot-high perimeter fence. He was alone with Bashuta for about 10 minutes before he was rescued by zoo officials, who used a fire extinguisher to chase the animal away.

The zookeepers instructed him to roll under an electrified wire to get to safety, zoo director Jim Breheny said. They then called the tiger into a holding area.

The Bronx Zoo, one of the nation’s largest zoos, sprawls over 265 acres and contains hundreds of animals, many in habitats meant to resemble natural settings. Its exhibits include Tiger Mountain, Congo Gorilla Forest and World of Reptiles.

There are 10 tigers at the Wild Asia exhibit, but the 11-year-old Bashuta was the only one on display at the time. Zoo officials said he would remain in the rotation.

“When someone is determined to do something harmful to themselves, it’s very hard to stop that,” said Breheny. “The tiger did nothing wrong.”