Three snow leopards die of Covid-19 at US zoo after tigers also tested positive

The deaths are the latest among captive big cat populations hit by Covid around the world (Picture: Lincoln Children’s Zoo)

Three snow leopards at a zoo in the US have died of Covid-19 a month after they first tested positive.

Keepers found out Ranney, Everest, and Malaku had the disease on October 13, along with a pair of Sumatran tigers, after they took nasal swabs and fecal samples.

The two tigers made a full recovery, but sadly the three snow leopards died of complications from the illness.

The Children’s Zoo in Lincoln, Nebraska, announced the news in a Facebook post on Friday, describing it as ‘truly heartbreaking’.

Vets tried to treat the snow leopards with a steroids and antibiotics but ultimately couldn’t save them.

Some zoo animals in the US have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in the US, including tigers, bears, and apes.

However, the zoo has not said whether their affected animals had been vaccinated.

Reports of Covid infections are on the rise in the US as zoos in Denver and in St Louis have confirmed some of their animals tested positive this month.

A spokesperson for the Lincoln Children’s Zoo said in a statement: ‘It is with deep sadness that we inform our community that three snow leopards […] have passed away due to complications of Covid-19.

The zoo said the loss of the leopards was ‘heartbreaking’ (Picture: Lincoln Children’s Zoo)

‘Our leopards, Ranney, Everest, and Makalu, were beloved by our entire community inside and outside of the zoo.

‘This loss is truly heartbreaking, and we are all grieving together.

‘Sumatran tigers, Axl and Kumar, have made a seemingly full recovery from their illness.

‘The Lincoln Children’s Zoo remains open to the public and continues to take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to humans and animals.

‘We will continue following the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) and CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of our animals, staff, and community.’

Infections have been reported in multiple species worldwide, mostly in animals that had close contact with a person with Covid-19, according to US officials.

The Department of Agriculture is asking people with Covid-19 to avoid close contact with animals, including pets, to protect them from possible infection.

The zoo will remain open to the public.

The park said it has strict coronavirus protocols in place for animal areas, including mask use for staffers working inside.

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