LINCLN, Neb. — Three snow leopards housed at a Nebraska zoo have died from COVID-19 complications after several animals tested positive for the virus, officials with the Lincoln Children’s Zoo confirmed Friday.
“This loss is truly heartbreaking, and we are all grieving together,” zoo officials wrote in a post on the attraction’s official Facebook page.
The zoo announced Oct. 13 that snow leopards Ranney, Everest and Makalu had tested positive for COVID-19 after several felines exhibited symptoms. Although the zoo’s Sumatran tigers also showed symptoms and tested positive for the virus, they appear to have fully recovered, USA Today reported.
The big cats were treated with steroids and antibiotics to prevent secondary infection, and the source of the COVID-19 infection has not been identified, CBS News reported.
Lincoln Children’s Zoo said that it remains open to the public and that it “continues to take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to humans and animals.”
“We will continue following the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of our animals, staff, and community,” zoo officials stated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered low, but the virus can spread from people to animals in certain situations, CBS News reported.
The Nebraska zoo’s snow leopards are among several to contract the coronavirus in facilities across the country since the pandemic began, USA Today reported.
The snow leopards NeeCee, Kimti and Meru all tested positive at the Louisville Zoo and recovered from their illnesses late last year. Meanwhile, Ramil and Naphisa, two snow leopards at the San Diego Zoo, tested positive this summer after zookeepers noticed them coughing, the newspaper reported.
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