Coronavirus: Unvaccinated snow leopard at San Diego Zoo tests positive

SAN DIEGO — An unvaccinated snow leopard at the San Diego Zoo tested positive for COVID-19, zoo officials said Friday.

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Ramil, a 9-year-old male snow leopard at the zoo, was tested Thursday after zoo officials noticed he had a cough and runny nose, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The animal’s stool was tested for the virus and the result was positive, the newspaper reported.

The zoo’s wildlife care team sent samples to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System so that the state-level lab could confirm the result, the Union-Tribune reported. That test also came back positive.

Officials are still waiting for a U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory to triple-check the finding, the newspaper reported.

“The male snow leopard appears to be doing well, and is showing no additional symptoms other than the cough and runny nose,” the San Diego Wildlife Alliance said in a statement.

Zoo officials are not sure how Ramil contracted the virus, KNSD reported. The facility has biosecurity protocols that were ramped up when the pandemic occurred. Currently, zoo employees are required to wear masks and practice public safety protocols, the television station reported.

In a statement, zoo officials said that because Ramil shares an enclosure with a female snow leopard and two Amur leopards, they are assuming the other big cats have been exposed to COVID-19 and are quarantining all of them, the Union-Tribune reported.

The exhibit will be closed to the public.

“We can assure you the snow leopard and the Amur leopards who share his habitat are receiving excellent care,” Dwight Scott, the zoo’s executive director, said in a statement.

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