With the Covid related death of a snow leopard at the Great Plains Zoo as a grim reminder, wildlife veterinarians are having a virtual international conference at which Covid will be a major topic of discussion as the veterinarians work to assist zoo animals and wildlife in general.
The American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) and the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (EAZWV) are hosting a joint virtual conference on select days during a five week period ending Nov. 5.
Among the topics listed for presentation and discussion on the AAZV website are experimental veterinary vaccines for Covid-Sars 2, diagnostic and management protocols for the virus and a close examination of cases of the virus among wild felids.
The above photo of a healthy snow leopard shows some of the adaptations for cold and high altitude. Dense fur, compact body, rounded ears and a thick bushy tail all contribute to the cat’s ability to function in its challenging realm
The conference is being held in the wake of the death of Baya, a 2.5 year old snow leopard who died October 7 despite intensive care, according to the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Natural History Museum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she lived. The zoo said her symptoms, consistent with Covid-Sars 2, began October 3 and despite the efforts of zoo staff and consultants, died October 7. She had been sent to the Great Plains zoo as part of a captive breeding program to help assure the survival of the species. An estimated 7,000 snow leopards survive in mountainous terrain in Asia. Conservation efforts appear to have raised the number, but the species is still at risk.
Other cats in the zoo have shown similar but milder symptoms, the zoo said.
The AAZV describes itself as “veterinarians advancing the health and welfare of zoo animals and wild animals” and describes its goals as improving the health of zoo animals and wildlife as well as promoting veterinary medicine, and “Fostering positive interrelationshios among humans, animals and the environment,”
The 1,000 member AAZV is based in Yulee Florida