A rare snow leopard at the San Diego Zoo has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The zoo has said that the leopard was not vaccinated and they are working now to vaccinate all their animals that had not been previously vaccinated.
Executive Director at the San Diego Zoo Dwight Scott had this to say:
“It is not yet known how the male snow leopard acquired the infection. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has always had biosecurity protocols in place, and adopted heightened protocols around wildlife at the onset of the pandemic last year. The San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s biosecurity practices include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning and disinfection protocols, quarantine procedures for new arrivals and preventive medicine practices, such as vaccination. All employees are provided N95 face masks, and employees who are not vaccinated are required to wear masks and practice health and safety protocols at all times. Despite these protocols, transmission of the COVID-19 virus has occurred, and this highlights the challenges we all face together in combating this highly contagious virus.”
Good news is that the male leopard is doing well. In a press release from the San Diego Zoo, it was revealed that he is not showing additional symptoms from a runny nose and cough. Because the snow leopard shares a habitat with a female snow leopard and two Amur leopards they have them under quarantine.
Visitors of the San Diego Zoo will not be able to see them while they are recovering and their habitat will be closed until further notice from the zoo. Veterinarians are monitoring them closely, and will treat symptoms as they may arise.