Snow leopard at Illinois zoo dies from pneumonia caused by COVID-19


BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — An 11-year-old snow leopard at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois, has died after suffering from COVID-19-induced pneumonia.

Zoo officials made the announcement Thursday afternoon on Facebook. Rilu began suffering from symptoms of the virus in early December.

Rilu was moved to the Miller Park Zoo in 2011 from the Oklahoma City Zoo. Since then, Rilu made seven cubs that are part of the Species Survival Plan.

Rilu’s contributions put Miller Park Zoo on the map for being one of the leading institutions in producing snow leopard cubs across the globe. In the post, staff members said, “Rilu’s personality and beauty will be missed by guests and staff, but he will not be forgotten.”

“I think Rilu was my favorite animal here at the zoo, for a lot of reasons,” Miller Park Zoo Superintendent Jay Tetzloff said. “He has been here about as long as I have. I run the snow leopard breeding program for North America, so they are near and dear to my heart.”

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