A 14-year-old Amur tiger died last weekend at the Columbus Zoo after developing pneumonia caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus.
A news release from the zoo says the tiger, named Jupiter, died on Sunday. Jupiter is the first animal at the zoo to die from complications from COVID-19.
The zoo says Jupiter had been on a long-term treatment for a chronic underlying illness, which made the tiger susceptible to the coronavirus.
“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 news release says. “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.”
The tiger’s care team noticed Jupiter was showing signs of illness on June 22, including a reluctance to stand or move, and no interest in eating. He was anesthetized and examined the next day. A treatment for an infection was started, officials say.
Jupiter did not respond to the initial treatment, however, so he was given more testing and additional treatments. Although he appeared stable on Saturday, he died overnight, the zoo says.
The zoo is requiring its staff working with cats, great apes and mustelids (i.e., otters, wolverines) to wear masks when within 6 feet of the animals as a precautionary measure. The zoo says these animals are more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus.
Jupiter was born at the Moscow Zoo on July 9, 2007, and arrived arrived at the Columbus Zoo on March 19, 2015. He sired nine cubs (six born at the Columbus Zoo).
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