Snow leopard in Illinois zoo dies from coronavirus

The snow leopard known as Rilu, seen here in a 2020 Miller Park Zoo Keeper Chat, died from pneumonia after contracting the coronavirus. Credit: Miller Park Zoo via YouTube

A growing list of animals in captivity—and in the wild—have been known to contract the virus that causes COVID-19. Often, they show few or no symptoms. But for some it has been fatal. The latest is an 11-year-old snow leopard (Panthera uncia) at a zoo in Bloomington, Illinois.

“Rilu, an 11-year-old Snow Leopard has died at the Miller Park Zoo after struggling with COVID-induced pneumonia,” the zoo announced on Instagram.

National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore photographed the cat as part of his Photo Ark project documenting endangered species. “Snow leopards are proving extremely susceptible to the disease and it’s often fatal,” Sartore wrote in an Instragram post announcing the death.

The virus has been fatal to other big cats in zoos, including three leopards at a Nebraska zoo, a lion in India and two tiger cubs in Pakistan.

Read more in the Guardian.