Jupiter – the zoo’s first animal to die of covid-19 – was just weeks away from its 15th birthday. In the wild, Amur tigers like Jupiter typically live 10 to 15 yearsbut they can live up to 20 years in captivity.
A group of gorillas are treated for covid. The great apes will soon have their shots too, according to the zoo.
Jupiter’s care team noted on June 22 that the tiger had lost its appetite and didn’t seem to want to move around or interact with its keepers.
Zoo officials said Jupiter was anesthetized for an examination, which suggested an infection, and treatment was initiated. “Unfortunately, Jupiter did not improve with this treatment and remained reluctant to move and eat,” officials said.
Although he appeared stable, he died in the early hours of Sunday morning.
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Sarah Hamer, a veterinary epidemiologist at Texas A&M University, told the Washington Post that coronavirus diagnoses in animals are rare, in part because animal testing is rarely done.
However, there have been anecdotal reports of zoo animals testing positive for the virus. In October, a lion at the National Zoo nearly died after contracting covid-19, and one at the Honolulu Zoo is dead. The following month, three snow leopards at a Nebraska zoo died of complications from covid-19.
To protect against it, dozens of zoos, sanctuaries and conservatories in the United States have vaccinated wild animals.
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During the coronavirus pandemic, Hamer and his team tested pets in covid-19 positive homes to determine how often animals contract the disease. Among the 600 households in which humans had covid-19, about 25% of households had pets that also tested positive for the infection and about 25% of infected animals were reported by their owners as symptomatic – suffering from lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and, in some cases, coughing and sneezing. But either way, the pets were fine without veterinary intervention, she said in a phone interview Thursday.
With infected zoo animals, “usually we find out when an animal shows clinical signs – it is noted that it is sick, so it is tested and the test comes back positive. That’s when we learn that,” she said. “But we don’t know all the potential times when a zoo animal might be exposed and might be infected but wouldn’t develop clinical signs, because in that case it doesn’t. there would be no reason to test it.”
But Hamer said the research is important for animal health as well as human health.
Hamer said that in some cases, animals that are exposed to the coronavirus can become infected and then serve as a reservoir or carrier, infecting other animals or transmitting the virus to humans.
In a study published this summer in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, Thai researchers have documented what is believed to be the first case in which a pet cat infected a human with the virus. The human – a veterinarian – tested positive after being sneezed on by an infected cat, researchers said. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Noted the risk of transmission from animals to humans is low.
It is unclear exactly how Jupiter contracted the virus. Columbus Zoo officials require staff members who work with big cats, apes and mustelids, such as otters, to wear masks when working closely with these animals, which are more likely to contract the disease, zoo officials said in the statement. .
Jupiter, an Amur tiger (also known as the Siberian tiger), was born in July 2007 at the Moscow Zoo. In 2015, he arrived at the Columbus Zoo, where six of the nine cubs he fathered were born in the past seven years, officials said in the statement.
Officials said he will be remembered as “a big and impressive tiger” who loved fish, slept in his cave and played with cardboard boxes.