LOUISVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Five-year-old NeeCee, a female snow leopard at the Louisville Zoo, has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, the zoo announced in a release issued Friday.
The Louisville Zoo is awaiting confirmatory results of the other two male snow leopards – Kimti and Meru. All three cats are doing well with very mild symptoms. The zoo said it continues to monitor their health closely and expects all three cats to recover.
No other animals are showing symptoms at this time.
The three snow leopards began exhibiting minor respiratory symptoms, including an occasional dry cough or wheeze, within the last two weeks. It is suspected that NeeCee acquired the infection from an asymptomatic staff member, despite precautions by the zoo.
“Fortunately, based on clinical cases in large cats at other zoos in the country to this point, SARS-CoV-2 infection does not appear to be life-threatening,” said Dr. Zoli Gyimesi, the zoo's senior staff veterinarian. “We will be closely monitoring the snow leopards for ongoing symptoms and resampling them to identify when they have cleared the infection.”
In April 2020, four tigers and three lions were confirmed positive at an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) zoo in New York. An additional three tigers at an AZA zoo in Tennessee were confirmed to be infected this fall. In all cases, the animals recovered and are doing well.