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Three snow leopards at Nebraska zoo die from COVID-19 complications

Three snow leopards at the Lincoln, Nebraska, Children’s Zoo have died from complications due to COVID-19 after multiple animals were infected, the zoo said Friday.

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“This loss is truly heartbreaking, and we are all grieving together,” the zoo said in a statement on Facebook.

Snow leopards Ranney, Everest and Makalu tested positive after some exhibited symptoms, the zoo had announced last month. The zoo’s Sumatran tigers also showed symptoms and tested positive. They appear to have fully recovered, the zoo said Friday.

The animals were treated with steroids and antibiotics, according to the zoo.

“The Zoo has conducted a thorough investigation of all staff that were in close proximity to the felids. There is no evidence to pinpoint the source of the infection,” the zoo said last month after the infections were detected.

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The snow leopards are among several to contract the coronavirus in zoos around the country. The snow leopards NeeCee, Kimti and Meru all tested positive at the Louisville Zoo and recovered from their illnesses late last year. Ramil and Naphisa, two snow leopards at the San Diego Zoo, tested positive this summer after zookeepers noticed coughs.

Other zoo animals including lions, tigersand gorillas have gotten COVID at zoos, and some cases have been attributed to transmission from handlers. Many zoos have vaccinated their animals. Eighty animals at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine created for veterinary use as of last month.

The Lincoln Children’s Zoo did not say whether its animals were vaccinated.

“The Lincoln Children’s Zoo remains open to the public and continues to take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to humans and animals,” the zoo said.

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