Snow Leopard At Sioux Falls Zoo Possible COVID Death; 5 Big Cats Test Positive At Lincoln Zoo


     Officials at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls say Baya, one of their snow leopards, has died possibly of COVID-19.

      The zoo announced Monday that one of its tigers had tested positive for COVID-19 and that several other big cats were suspected of having the disease. 

         Baya died last Thursday of a respiratory illness that zoo veterinarians say may have been covid. The snow leopard had begun coughing 5 days earlier, then wouldn’t eat and acted lethargic.

       Baya was given antibiotics on Thursday, but lapsed into critical condition later in the day and died a short time later. The leopard had arrived at the Sioux Falls zoo just earlier this year. 

      Meanwhile, officials at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo say 5 of their big cats have tested positive for COVID-19, the first cases of the respiratory illness at the zoo. All are expected to recover. 

     Zoo spokeswoman Sarah Wood says the two Sumatran tigers and 3 snow leopards were tested after they began showing symptoms of the virus during the weekend. It’s not clear how they were infected. 

    Wood says the 5 cats are undergoing treatments that have been successful at other zoos, adding that the public was not in danger because of the distance between the cats and zoo visitors.