The Columbus Zoo in Ohio confirmed that one of its Amur tigers died from COVID-19 complications.
Jupiter, a 14-year-old who has lived at the zoo since 2015, died on Sunday after developing pneumonia from COVID-19. The Columbus Zoo said Jupiter had an underlying health condition that made him more susceptible to the virus.
The zoo said Jupiter began displaying symptoms on June 22. The zoo said Jupiter was not interested in eating and was reluctant to interact with zookeepers. Officials said although he stabilized, his condition did not improve before his death.
As a precaution, the zoo will require staff working with cats, great apes and mustelids to wear masks when in close proximity.
“Jupiter's care team remembers him as a big and impressive tiger who loved fish, sleeping in the habitat’s cave, playing with cardboard boxes, and interacting with another favorite item—a 75-pound firehouse “plus sign” that was heavy for keepers to move but something he carried around like it weighed nothing,” the Columbus Zoo said. “His care team also fondly remembers the trust they built with Jupiter over time through training and how he was always very friendly with the female tigers, Mara and Natasha.”
Past reports suggest that it’s not uncommon for tigers to become ill from COVID-19.
Like humans, federal regulators have also approved COVID-19 vaccinations for zoo animals, including tigers.