3 Star Attractions of Children's Zoo Fall to COVID

Nebraska zoo announces deaths of trio of snow leopards
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2021 8:32 AM CST
Three Star Attractions of Children's Zoo Fall to COVID
File photo of a snow leopard, this one in the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, N.Y.   (Catherine Stolz/Rosamond Gifford Zoo via AP)

Big cats at zoos have contracted COVID during the pandemic previously, but this time the cases were fatal. The Lincoln Children's Zoo in Nebraska says the snow leopards Ranney, Everest, and Makaly have died after testing positive last month, reports CBS News. The cats were star attractions at the facility for years, notes the Washington Post. "This loss is truly heartbreaking, and we are all grieving together," says the zoo in a statement. Meanwhile, two Sumatran tigers at the same zoo appear to have recovered from the virus.

Generally, zoo animals are believed to catch the virus from their human handlers. The animals can then spread it to one another, though no cases have been reported of an animal spreading the disease back to a human. (This applies to house cats, too, per Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine.) Some zoos have begun vaccinating animals, though it wasn't immediately clear if the snow leopards had received any vaccine, reports USA Today. They were tested after they began exhibiting symptoms in October. The zoo is not closing and "continues to take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to humans and animals," it says. (Gorillas also have tested positive at zoos.)

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