NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Three snow leopards at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Nebraska died from COVID-19 complications last week, and now, zoos across the nation are on alert, including the Nashville Zoo.
Dr. Heather Schwartz, the Director of Veterinary Medicine at the Nashville Zoo, said they already take extra care with the zoo’s feline residents since they may be more susceptible to the virus.
“We’ve been concerned about all the felines that we have here,” Dr. Schwartz said. “We have everything ranging from servals to caracals and tigers and clouded leopards, of course. So, we’ve been trying to take extra precautions.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, zookeepers at the Nashville Zoo have interacted with animals only when wearing PPE and gloves. So far, this strategy has worked and there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in any animals at the Nashville Zoo.
COVID-19 has impacted animals at other zoos. However, most of the time the animals recover.
The three snow leopards at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo succumbed to the coronavirus after a month of treatment.
“It’s very sad to see that those cats actually succumbed to this because what we had seen so far is that most of them are able to recover fully with supportive care like the tigers at the Bronx,” said Dr. Schwartz. “It does look like there’s evidence that the delta variant is hitting the animals harder than the previous just like it seems to be hitting us harder as well.”
The good news is that the Nashville Zoo is participating in the second round of the trial for a COVID-19 vaccine for animals offered by Zoetis.
“We are slated to get the second batch of trial vaccine here in two weeks. And we have our animals that are on the ready to receive that,” said Dr. Schwartz. “So, we’ll be starting with the most concerning species, and that will be our cats.”