Snow Leopard at the San Diego Zoo Suspected Positive for COVID-19

A snow leopard at the San Diego Zoo is suspected of being positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that leads to COVID-19, after several initial tests found the pathogen, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said.

In a press release, the alliance said the male snow leopard, Ramil, recognizable for his missing eye, had exhibited symptoms including a cough and runny nose, leading care specialists to take fecal samples.

The samples were tested by the zoo and returned a positive result. Samples also tested positive at California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS). Additional testing is to be conducted at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL).

“The male snow leopard appears to be doing well, and is showing no additional symptoms other than the cough and runny nose,” the alliance wrote in the press release. “He shares his habitat with a female snow leopard and two Amur leopards. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance veterinarians assume these three individuals have also been exposed. They are currently being quarantined in their habitat. Veterinarians are monitoring them closely, and will treat symptoms as they may arise.”

Footage shared by the San Diego Wildlife Alliance shows Ramil and a fellow San Diego Zoo resident, female snow leopard Naphisa. Credit: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance via Storyful