In the US metropolis of San Diego, a snow leopard is infected with the corona virus. In January 2021, the zoo’s gorillas had already contracted Covid-19.
San Diego – A male snow leopard named Ramil in the San Diego Zoo is, as reported by the editorial network Germany (RND) among others, infected with the coronavirus *. Game keepers noticed on Thursday (July 22nd, 2021) that the animal was coughing and had nasal discharge. The laboratory was then able to detect the pathogen SARS-CoV-2 in fecal samples. The Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS) confirmed the diagnosis after further testing. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) findings are pending.
“While we wait for the results of the tests to determine whether the snow leopard carries the virus, we can assure that the snow leopard and the Amur leopards that live with it in the enclosure are being well looked after,” said Zoo Director Dwight Scott quoted in a position name of the zoo. “Our veterinary teams and animal keepers in both the zoo and the safari park are highly qualified, dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to ensure the welfare of the wildlife in our care.”
Coronavirus infection in snow leopard Ramil causes only mild symptoms
In addition, Ramil is fine, he still has a cough and a runny nose. The two female snow leopards and Amur leopards who live with him in the enclosure are currently in quarantine and are under observation by the vets. Zoo visitors are currently not allowed on the walkway. However, anyone who has recently visited the enclosure does not have to worry about infection. In autumn, however, researchers found out that infection in animals is possible *.
How snow leopard Ramil contracted the virus is unclear. Since the beginning of the pandemic *, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has kept tightened protocols on protective equipment for keepers: inside, cleaning and disinfection, as well as quarantine measures and vaccinations. The employees would be offered N95 protective masks, which – if they are not vaccinated – they would have to wear them at all times.
Ramil isn’t the first coronavirus case at the San Diego Zoo
Even before Ramil, three other snow leopards had been infected with the corona virus in the USA *, as reported by CNN.de. There were three cases of mild symptoms at the Louisville Zoo in December. Presumably the animals had been infected by an asymptomatically infected employee.
And the San Diego Zoo already has experience with Covid-19 in animals. In January, the gorilla group of the safari park got infected in contact with one or an asymptomatic animal keeper: in with SARS-CoV-2. All animals have recovered.
The zoos share their findings about the SARS-CoV-2 virus in animals with international nature conservation organizations and wildlife keepers in more than 200 zoos worldwide so that they can adjust the protection against infection for the animals if necessary.
Coronavirus vaccine for animals: San Diego Zoo has already vaccinated lions, tigers and the like
To prevent coronvirus infections in animals, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance recently started vaccinating lions, tigers, cheetahs, jaguars, mountain lions, and other leopards. A donation helped the facility with spike protein vaccine doses from animal health company Zoetis. Depending on which wild animals are most at risk of contracting Covid-19, they will receive the vaccine first or later. Ramil had not yet been vaccinated.
Basically, also outside of pandemic times, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance takes care to protect animals from infectious diseases. These include vaccinations against rabies, the West Nile virus, seasonal flu and measles. Thanks to these immunizations, endangered and threatened species such as black-footed ferrets, California condors, gorillas and cheetahs have been protected in the past. The Frankfurt Zoo also vaccinates its animals * to prevent infections like in the USA. * FR.de is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.
List of rubric lists: © Federico Gambarini / dpa