Unvaccinated snow leopard becomes infected with covid at San Diego zoo

An unfortunate San Diego snow leopard who developed a cough and runny nose last week tested positive for coronavirus.

Ramil, a nine-year-old feline from the San Diego Zoo, had not been vaccinated against the virus, unlike other big cats and apes at the zoo.

Caregivers noticed Ramil’s symptoms Thursday and tests of her stool confirmed she had coronavirus, the zoo said in a statement Friday.

Although the zoo said Ramil “appears to be fine,” he has been quarantined along with the female snow leopard and two Amur leopards with whom he shares an enclosure.

Veterinarians are closely monitoring the animals and their enclosure is closed to zoo visitors until further notice, according to the statement.

The zoo does not know how Ramil contracted the virus and claimed that it has implemented important hygiene measures since the pandemic began last year.

Positive results from tests taken at the zoo and in a California laboratory were sent to the veterinary laboratories of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for verification.

The San Diego Zoo has been vaccinating big cats and other animals at risk for COVID with an experimental puncture from animal health company Zoetis, but Ramil had yet to receive a dose.

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The team began vaccinating the animals after a troop of eight gorillas contracted the disease in January from a zookeeper who had shown no symptoms.

The troop was the first known example of the virus that infects apes.

Information on gorillas and the snow leopard will be shared with conservation organizations and wildlife care professionals around the world to protect animals from the virus.

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The zoo also said that staff are not required to have the vaccine, but unvaccinated employees must wear face masks at all times.