SAN DIEGO (CBSLA) — A male snow leopard at the San Diego Zoo is under observation Monday after being tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Wildlife care specialists at the zoo noticed the snow leopard had a cough and nasal discharge Thursday, officials said. Fecal samples from the snow leopard tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and were confirmed by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System.READ MORE: Dodgers Broadcaster Joe Davis Tests Positive For COVID-19
The positive tests have been since sent to the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory, where the results are still pending, zoo officials said.
According to the zoo, the snow leopard appears to be doing well and is not showing other symptoms. But he does share his habitat with a female snow leopard and two Amur leopards. Veterinarians assume the other leopards have been exposed, and they are being quarantined in their habitat, which will be closed to zoo visitors until further notice.READ MORE: Brush Fire Blackens Nine Acres In Chatsworth
“While we await the results of tests to determine if the snow leopard is positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, we can assure you the snow leopard and the Amur leopards who share his habitat are receiving excellent care,” Dwight Scott, executive director of the San Diego Zoo, said in a statement.
It’s not known how the male snow leopard acquired the infection. The zoo says it provides N95 masks to all employees, and those who are not vaccinated are required to wear masks and practice health and safety protocols at all times.
The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance says they have received a donation of COVID-19 vaccine intended for nonhuman use and are currently administering doses as quickly and safely as possible to the animals most at risk of contracting the virus — including leopards, lions, tigers, cheetahs, jaguars, mountain lions, and others. The male snow leopard had not yet been vaccinated.MORE NEWS: FDA Authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 Booster Shots For Seniors And Others At High Risk
In January, a troop of gorillas at the neighboring Safari Park contracted SARS-CoV-2 from an asymptomatic wildlife care specialist, but they have since fully recovered. The San Diego Zoo Wildlife alliance says they are sharing information about animal infection, transmission, and treatment with conservation organizations and wildlife care professionals around the world.