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Tiger at Ohio zoo dies after contracting Covid

NBC News logo NBC News 6/30/2022 Chantal Da Silva and Colin Sheeley
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A tiger at an Ohio zoo has died after developing pneumonia caused by Covid-19, the zoo announced Wednesday.

Jupiter, a 14-year-old old Amur tiger, died Sunday, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said in a Facebook post.

According to the zoo, Jupiter had been on long-term treatment for chronic underlying illnesses, which made him more susceptible to this virus.

The tiger was the first animal at the zoo to die from Covid-19, it said.

The zoo said Jupiter had initially been reported as acting ill on June 22. The tiger was not interested in eating and was reluctant to move, stand or interact with keepers.

"When this continued into the next day, Jupiter was anesthetized for examination and treatment," the zoo said.

Initial exams suggested that the animal had an infection and treatment was administered.

"Unfortunately, Jupiter did not improve with this treatment and remained reluctant to move and eat," the zoo said.

The following day, the tiger was given additional treatments and had more diagnostic testing. He appeared to be stable, but died overnight, it said.

The zoo said that as a precautionary measure, staff working with cats, great apes and mustelids, such as otters and wolverines, would be required to wear masks when within six feet of the animals as "these animals are more susceptible to contracting Covid-19."

Jupiter was born at the Moscow Zoo on July 9, 2007, and had arrived at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on March 19, 2015, after spending some time at the Zoo Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic, the Columbus zoo said.

The tiger sired nine cubs, with six being born at the Columbus zoo, which officials said contributed "to the future of this endangered species."

"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 zoo said.

"Jupiter will be greatly missed," the zoo said, inviting its followers to share their favorite memories of the tiger in the comments section.

The post received hundreds of comments, with many fondly remembering their encounters with the tiger.

"He was a beautiful tiger. I remember the first time my family saw him after he arrived at the zoo, we were so shocked about how loud he was!! I’m so sorry for your loss," one person wrote.

"My heart is broken, he was my most favorite personal animal at the Zoo, I’m glad I got to know him for the past 7 years and remember the amazing pictures I took of this Handsome Boy," another said.

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