COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced on Wednesday that a tiger has died from complications with COVID-19.
The zoo announced on Facebook that a 14-year-old Amur tiger named Jupiter died Sunday after developing pneumonia caused by COVID-19. According to National Geographic, certain types of animals, including big cats, are particularly susceptible to contracting the coronavirus.
Jupiter received long-term treatment for chronic underlying diseases, which made him more susceptible to this virus, the zoo said in a release. Jupiter is the first and only animal to succumb to COVID-19 at the facility, according to the Columbus Zoo.
Jupiter started getting sick on June 22, the release said. He was not interested in food and was reluctant to stand, move, or interact with caregivers. When this continued the next day, Jupiter was sedated for examination and treatment.
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The zoo said the initial diagnosis was an infection and the staff began treatment. Jupiter still didn’t improve. The next day, he received additional treatments and was tested more. Although he seemed stable, Jupiter died overnight.
As a precautionary measure, the zoo requires that staff working with cats, apes and mustelids (otters and wolverines) wear masks when within five feet of these animals. They are all more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
The total number of animals that have died after getting COVID-19 is unknown, but there have been multiple reports in other zoos during the pandemic. For example, in November, three snow leopards died at a Nebraska zoo from complications from COVID. And in October, an African lion also died at a zoo in Hawaii after contracting the virus.
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Experts note that most animals that contract the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans do recover. However, as with humans, certain conditions can cause certain animals to develop more serious complications that can lead to death.
Jupiter was born at the Moscow Zoo on July 9, 2007 and arrived at the Columbus Zoo on March 19, 2015 after spending time at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. The zoo said he fathered nine cubs, six of which were born at the Columbus Zoo, contributing to the future of this endangered species.
“Jupiter’s care team remembers him as a large and impressive tiger who loved to fish, slept in the habitat cave, played with cardboard boxes, and handled another favorite item – a 75-pound ‘plus sign’ that was heavy for keepers to carry. move but something he carried with him as if it weighed nothing,” Columbus Zoo wrote in its Facebook post on Wednesday. “Jupiter will be greatly missed.”
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Contributors: Asha Gilbert, Wyatte Grantham-Philips, USA TODAY.