14-Year-Old Tiger at Columbus Zoo Dies After Contracting COVID-19

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Jupiter, 14-Year-Old Tiger at Ohio Zoo Dies After Contracting COVID
Jupiter, 14-Year-Old Tiger at Ohio Zoo Dies After Contracting COVID

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo is mourning the loss of a 14-year-old tiger who has died from COVID-19 complications.

Jupiter, who died on June 26 at the facility, is the first animal to succumb to the virus at the zoo, officials said in a Facebook post.

"We are sad to report that 14-year-old Amur tiger, Jupiter, passed away on Sunday, June 26, 2022, after developing pneumonia caused by the COVID-19 virus," the zoo wrote. "Jupiter had been on long term treatment for chronic underlying illnesses, which made him more susceptible to this virus."

RELATED: Snow Leopard at Illinois Zoo Dead After Contracting COVID-19: He 'Will Be Missed'

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Zookeepers first noticed that Jupiter was feeling ill on June 22. The animal was "not interested in eating, and was reluctant to stand, move or interact with keepers," according to the post.

The tiger was then anesthetized to help diagnose his illness, and the results suggested an infection.

"Unfortunately, Jupiter did not improve with this treatment and remained reluctant to move and eat. The following day, he was given additional treatments and had more diagnostic testing. Although he appeared stable, Jupiter passed away overnight," the zoo wrote.

RELATED: Zoo Atlanta Announces Temporary Early Closures Due to Extreme Heat

Jupiter was born in Moscow on July 9, 2007. He had been at the Ohio zoo since March 2015. The big cat sired nine cubs, six of which were born at the Columbus Zoo, officials said.

In the wake of Jupiter's death, staff at the zoo are taking further precautions to stave off COVID-19 infections in other animals. Staff will now wear masks when within six feet of "cats, great apes and mustelids (i.e. otters, wolverines)," the zoo said.

RELATED: Columbus Zoo Announces Death of Beloved Elephant Beco Following 'Life-Threatening Virus'

The loss comes just over a week after the zoo lost another beloved animal. Beco, a 13-year-old Asian elephant, died June 18 after testing positive for the Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV), a life-threatening virus that affects both wild and captive elephants.

Meanwhile, a string of animals have died from COVID-19 complications in zoos since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that some animals worldwide have been infected with the virus that causes COVID since the pandemic began, typically after close contact with people with COVID. The agency states that the risk of pets spreading COVID to humans is low, but humans with COVID should protect pets by isolating themselves away from their animals until they are healthy.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments.