Another snow leopard at San Diego Zoo suspected positive for COVID-19

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SAN DIEGO – Another snow leopard at the San Diego Zoo is suspected to be positive for COVID-19, the second such case reported there in as many weeks, zoo officials said Thursday.

A San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance spokeswoman said that the zoo’s 3-year-old female snow leopard called Naphisa tested positive for SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, during an in-house PCR test. According to the Union-Tribune, stool samples were tested after Naphisa had developed a cough “within the past few days.”

The zoo still is awaiting confirmatory results from the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, spokeswoman Darla Davis said in an email.

Last week, zoo officials announced a similar situation in its other snow leopard — a 9-year-old male named Ramil — after wildlife care specialists noticed he had a cough and nasal discharge.

It has not yet been determined how the snow leopards were exposed to COVID-19, but the two leopards as well as two Amur leopards, who share a habitat, have been quarantined as a group in their habitat since last week, Davis said,

“Because of their tight social grouping, the wildlife health and care teams had already been operating as if all four leopards were exposed,” Davis said. “The tentative test results confirm our working assumption.”

Davis added that the snow leopards are “not showing any concerning signs of illness” and that their coughs are improving. They’re both eating and moving around normally, she said.

“Our dedicated team of specialists will continue to provide all four leopards the best care available – monitoring them closely and treating symptoms as they may arise,” she said.

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