Neecee, Kimti and Meru at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky all experienced COVID-19[feminine[feminine-like symptoms, including a “dry cough” and “wheezing”, although staff take precautions around them.
Samples were sent to vets for testing, which returned a positive result coronavirus result for Neecee. The zoo is awaiting the results of the other two.
Rather than anesthetizing the leopards to obtain a throat and nose swab, the vets used their feces in the testing process.
In a video, Louisville Zoo director John Wakczak said their symptoms were “very mild,” adding that “the three snow leopards should be recovering.”
The zoo believes the cats contracted the disease from an asymptomatic staff member. Zookeepers all wear PPE and pass a medical examination at the start of each shift.
Neecee, Kimti and Meru will now all be “off show” and supervised by staff. They will then be retested to verify that they are free from COVID-19.
The zoo said it will no longer deploy testing at the site, adding that all testing must be approved by state and public health vets.
Although Neecee is the first snow leopard to catch COVID-19, she is not the first big cat.
Four lions tested positive for COVID-19 in a Barcelona zoo earlier this week, as four tigers and three lions at the Bronx Zoo in New York City contracted the disease in April.