Three snow leopards at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky tested positive for COVID-19 Friday, marking the sixth animal species to be infected with the highly-contagious virus after contact with humans.
The zoo said two males and a female contracted the virus and that their symptoms are currently “mild” and include wheezing and dry coughing. All three are anticipated to make a full recovery. No other animals at the zoo are exhibiting symptoms.
“Recently our zookeepers noticed that our snow leopards … were showing minor respiratory symptoms, including an occasional dry cough and wheezing. We acted immediately and had samples sent to veterinary diagnostic experts for testing,” said Louisville Zoo director John Walczak. “Today we learned that our snow leopards had tested positive for the COVID virus.”
Despite the leopards’ diagnoses, it is unlikely they pose a significant risk to zoo visitors given that the coronavirus is rarely spread between species and is most commonly transmitted between humans.
At least six animal species are known to have contracted the virus after exposure to humans, including tigers, lions, cats and dogs. The virus is rarely lethal in animals, though thousands of mink have died after outbreaks at U.S. fur farms.