Kentucky zoo snow leopards contract COVID-19

Snow leopards at the Louisville Zoo are thought to have contracted SARS-CoV-2 from an asymptomatic staff member. Credit: Trisha Shears

Snow leopard at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced the big cat likely contracted the disease from an asymptomatic staff member, even though the zoo took precautions to guard against this possibility. The zoo submitted samples from three snow leopards (Panthera uncia) after they showed signs of respiratory illness. The service stated in a press release that all three animals are expected to fully recover. The large cats aren’t the first to contract the coronavirus — a tiger (Panthera tigris) at the Bronx Zoo tested positive early on in the pandemic while a number of domestic cats (Felis catus) have tested positive.

Read more at the USDA.