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Unvaccinated leopard at San Diego Zoo contracts covid-19

An unvaccinated snow leopard at the San Diego Zoo contracted COVID-19.

Miami World / AP

Caregivers noted that nine-year-old Ramil developed a cough and a runny nose Thursday. The presence of the coronavirus was later confirmed by two separate tests of the feline’s feces, the zoo said in a statement Friday.

Ramil has shown no additional symptoms, the zoo said, but since he shares the enclosure with a female of his species and two Amur leopards, staff believe those specimens were exposed. The animals were quarantined and their exhibition was suspended.

How Ramil got infected is unknown.

In January, a group of eight gorillas at the zoo’s alternate facility, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, contracted COVID-19 from a keeper who carried the virus but was asymptomatic.

The gorilla group, which recovered, were the first known cases of monkeys infected with the virus.

The case prompted the zoo to request that the emergency use of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine intended for animals be allowed.

The vaccine from Zoetis, an animal health company that was once part of Pfizer, was applied to spices most at risk of COVID-19, including primates and big cats.

However, Ramil was not vaccinated before becoming infected.

Inoculations are not required for zoo staff, but unvaccinated employees must wear face masks at all times, the zoo said.

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