Snow leopards to return to exhibit following SARS-CoV-2 diagnoses

Snow leopards to return to exhibit following SARS-CoV-2 diagnoses
NeeCee was the first known case of the virus in a snow leopard, according to the Zoo. (Source: The Louisville Zoo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Three snow leopards will be back on exhibit at the Louisville Zoo after being diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2.

The female snow leopard, NeeCee, 5, tested positive for the virus, which causes COVID-19 in humans, in December. The two male snow leopards, Kimti and Meru, also tested positive after NeeCee, according to the Louisville Zoo.

Meru
Meru (Source: The Louisville Zoo)
Kimti
Kimti (Source: The Louisville Zoo)

Zoo officials said all three had mild symptoms that included a dry cough and wheezing but the leopards are now symptom free.

The leopards were quarantined until fecal samples showed they were clear of the virus.

Genome sequencing of the virus taken from the leopards by the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Illinois, confirmed the virus was a human strain, according to the Louisville Zoo. Zoo officials believe an asymptomatic staff member passed the virus to the animals.

The positive tests were the first known cases in snow leopards.

Copyright 2021 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.