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City: 5 big cats show signs of COVID-19 at Miller Park Zoo

A female snow leopard at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. Populations in the wild are declining and the species is classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
A female snow leopard at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. Four snow leopards at Bloomington's Miller Park Zoo are showing signs of COVID-19, the city said Tuesday.

Five big cats at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington are showing signs of COVID-19, the city said Tuesday, prompting the closing of the Katthoefer animal building after one Sumatran tiger and four snow leopards developed coughs and raspy breathing.

Zoo Director Jay Tetzloff said the first feline fell ill Nov. 20, adding all of the animals are responding to treatment. Many large carnivores and primates have contracted COVID during the pandemic, said Tetzloff. Some have died.

While the Miller Park's cats do not have a formal diagnosis, zoo staff are acting with an abundance of caution, he said.

No animals have received COVID vaccinations at the Miller Park Zoo. Staff have been evaluating and following other facilities that have given the vaccine and their results, said Tetzloff.

Closing the Katthoefer Building has prompted changes to the opening weekend of the Wild Lights festival on Dec 3-4. Tetzloff said admission will be free to members and less expensive for non-members.

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