Three snow leopards die from COVID-19 at Nebraska Zoo – Community News
Covid-19

Three snow leopards die from COVID-19 at Nebraska Zoo

LINCOLN, Neb. (CBS)

Three snow leopards at a zoo in Lincoln, Nebraska, have died from complications from COVID-19, the Lincoln Children’s Zoo announced Friday night. Two Sumatran tigers that contracted the virus at the zoo have “apparently” recovered, the zoo also announced.

“Our leopards, Ranney, Everest and Makaly, were loved by our entire community inside and outside the zoo,” the zoo said in a statement. “This loss is truly heartbreaking and we are all grieving together.”

The zoo first reported that the tigers and snow leopards tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. After zoo staff noticed the animals had symptoms consistent with the disease, testing was done with fecal samples and nasal swabs. The big cats were treated with steroids and antibiotics to prevent secondary infection. No other animals in the zoo showed signs of infection at the time, and all infected animals were expected to make a full recovery, the zoo reported.

The source of the contamination was not identified at the time.

“Given the great distance between the animals and visitors, the public is not at any risk,” the zoo said at the time.

Lincoln Children’s Zoo said it will remain open to the public and will “continue to take all precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to humans and animals.”

“We will continue to follow guidelines from the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) and CDC to ensure the safety of our animals, staff and the community,” it said.

According to the CDC, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to humans is considered low, but the virus can spread from human to animal in certain situations.

A Zoetis-developed vaccine made specifically for animals has been approved for experimental use by the United States Department of Agriculture on a case-by-case basis. The company has donated more than 11,000 doses of the vaccine to dozens of zoos, conservatories, sanctuaries and other organizations in 27 states.