Snow leopard dies at Illinois zoo after contracting Covid

Snow leopard dies at Illinois zoo after contracting Covid

A snow leopard died after contracting COVID-19 at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois

Rilu, an 11-year-old snow leopard, struggled with COVID-19-induced pneumonia before dying, according to a post on the verified Miller Park Zoo Instagram account.

“Rilu came to Miller Park Zoo in 2011 from the Oklahoma City Zoo,” the publication said. “During his time here, he produced seven living offspring that are now part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP).”

“He made the Miller Park Zoo one of the world’s leading institutions in the production of snow leopard cubs.”

“Guests and staff will miss Rilu’s personality and beauty, but they won’t forget it.”

Snow leopards are a vulnerable species, according to the World Wildlife Fund. With an estimated population of 4,000 to 6,500, the main threats to their survival are hunting, habitat loss and the climate crisis.

Wildlife photographer Joel Sartore, who captured Rilu on film, paid tribute to the snow leopard in a post on his verified Instagram account.

“We are very sad to share the news that Rilu, an 11-year-old snow leopard @millerparkzoo, has died from complications from covid,” Sartore said.

“Snow leopards are proving to be extremely susceptible to the disease and it is often fatal. If you have not yet received a vaccine and booster dose, please do so. It is more than human lives that are at stake. Thank you.”

Cases of zoo animals infected with COVID-19 have been previously reported. In December, two hippos tested positive for COVID-19 at a zoo in Antwerp, Belgium. A month earlier, three snow leopards died at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Nebraska, due to complications related to Covid-19.

“I love that Rilu’s legacy will endure at the Photo Ark. Rilu will captivate and amaze the world for many years to come,” said Jay Tetzloff, superintendent of the zoo, according to the Miller Park Zoo Instagram post.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.