NEWS AND COMMENT: Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Nebraska have announced on their Facebook page at November 12, 2021 that three snow leopards passed away due to complications of Covid-19. They name the leopards as: Ranney, Everest, and Makalu.
In contrast, a couple of Sumatran tigers made full recoveries after contracting Covid. It makes you wonder whether snow leopards are particularly vulnerable to this disease. We don’t know. I’m just speculating.
It’s a tragedy because snow leopards are pretty rare creatures. They are endangered in the wild and how is this zoo going to replace them? They were beloved by the community and I’m sure kids love them. There are lots of comments by visitors to their Facebook page demonstrating great sadness.
“Oh no! They were my favorite and we’d loved seeing their beauty and agility. My deepest sympathies.”
“It’s so sad, they were one of my favorite animals there. I can’t imagine how devastating it must be for their handlers. I won’t even be able to walk by their habitat.”
I have been watching the situation regarding zoo animals and Covid. Until now it seems to me that the big wild cat species have coped very well when they been infected with the disease by zoo handlers. In general, the symptoms have been relatively mild and the self-cure.
It’s ironic that they almost invariably get the disease from zoo staff. Are the staff vaccinated? Are all zoo staff vaccinated? Vaccinated people have less chance of transmitting the disease to others including animals. This is because their antibodies suppress the disease and the person becomes less infectious.
It would seem sensible to make it obligatory for zookeepers to be double vaccinated and even receive the booster if appropriate. We don’t know and I suspect that nearly every zoo does not have a mandatory vaccination programme for visitors and staff. However, Toronto Zoo have a mandatory vaccination policy for their staff and volunteers.
This video below is dated May 20, 2021. Things are developing. There is a strong argument to vaccinated animals as soon as we have completed vaccination programmes on people. They could be carried out in parallel. It looks like it’s time to think about protecting zoo animals in particular.
Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.
THERE ARE MORE ARTICLES ON THE SNOW LEOPARD AT THE BASE OF THE PAGE
I’m told that there are about 600 snow leopards living in accredited zoos worldwide. There are 250 in American zoos. It seems that zoos have breeding programs for snow leopards. For instance, since 1963, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has bred more than a dozen snow leopards and they support conservation efforts by their partners.
But these animals will spend their entire lives in zoos. They are not shipped out to the high plateaus of the Himalayas to live out their lives! It’s basically a zoo industry. A lot of people find that distasteful including me.
A major problem is maintaining genetic diversity. Clearly zoos work on doing their best to maintain genetic diversity in the North American population of captive snow leopards.
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