March 26, 2020 / 9:36 PM / 7 days ago

Birth of baby tiger 'Covid' brings hope to Mexican zoo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The rare birth of a baby tiger called “Covid” has brought a glimmer of hope to a private zoo in eastern Mexico even as normal life seizes up in the country to contain the deadly coronavirus that inspired his name.

Named by the family that owns the zoo as the global pandemic intensified, Bengal tiger Covid was born on March 14 in a small zoo in the city of Cordoba that specializes in rescuing animals from circuses and exotic private collections.

The coronavirus causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, which is often used synonymously with the virus.

The tiger’s birth came as a surprise to everyone, said Kitzia Rodriguez, daughter of the zoo owner and a vet there.

“We didn’t know he was on the way,” Rodriguez told Reuters.

“He’s going to have a big impact because the situation right now is difficult for everyone, even for us,” she said. “But I think the birth, in spite of the situation, will help us and gives us hope to carry on, so we can have visitors. Covid was a gift.”

The BioZoo in the state of Veracruz is still operating even as public life slowly winds down in Mexico to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed over 22,000 people worldwide.

Covid was born to an 8-year-old tigress that had been in a circus and was nursed back to health after needing an operation for a hip fracture, said zoo owner Gonzalo Rodriguez.

The cub’s father, age 6, joined the shelter after hurting his mouth by biting into a vase at the private home where he was kept, said Rodriguez, who has run the zoo for over two decades.

Reporting by Tamara Corro and Ana Isabel Martinez; Editing by Dave Graham and Leslie Adler

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