Ramil had a cough and runny nose Thursday, and after zoo staff tested his stool for COVID, results came back positive at an initial lab. The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System were then sent samples shortly after, and the state-level lab confirmed the results, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The animal shares an enclosure with three other large cats: a female snow leopard and two Amur leopards. Staff are assuming all cats have been exposed, so they’ll be quarantined and the exhibit will be closed to the public in the meantime.
“We can assure you the snow leopard and the Amur leopards who share his habitat are receiving excellent care,” said Dwight Scott, the zoo’s executive director.
The zoo says it does not know how the cat was exposed to COVID, as zoo keepers have a tight protocol and all employees are offered N95 masks. Unvaccinated people are required to wear masks on zoo grounds, too.
Still, back in January, a pack of eight gorillas tested positive for COVID-19 after being in contact with a keeper who had COVID. The primates were the first known case of COVID in apes, and all recovered.