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The 14-year-old Amur tiger, Jupiter, died Sunday after developing pneumonia caused by the virus, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said in a statement. Jupiter was undergoing long-term treatment for chronic underlying illnesses, which made him more susceptible to the virus, the zoo said.
Jupiter’s care team reported last week that he had been “acting ill.” He wasn’t interested in eating or interacting with his keepers and was reluctant to move or stand, according to the statement.
After Jupiter was anesthetized for examination, results suggested he may have been suffering from an infection, and treatment began.
“Unfortunately, Jupiter did not improve with this treatment and remained reluctant to move and eat,” the statement read.
Additional testing and treatments were administered the following day and Jupiter seemed stable, but he died that night, according to the statement.
Jupiter is the first animal at the zoo to die from Covid-19 complications, officials said.
“As a precautionary measure, we are requiring staff working with cats, great apes and mustelids (i.e., otters, wolverines) to wear masks when within six feet of these animals,” the statement said. “These animals are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.”
Jupiter arrived at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on March 19, 2015. He was born at the Moscow Zoo on July 9, 2007, and had sired nine cubs, the statement said.
“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 statement read.
Earlier this year, an 11-year-old snow leopard at Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois, died after contracting Covid-19. Rilu also developed pneumonia before death, zoo officials said.