Snow leopard at Illinois zoo dies from COVID-19

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Rilu, an 11-year-old snow leopard housed at the Miller Park Zoo in Illinois, died after suffering from COVID-19-induced pneumonia, officials said this week.

Zoo officials made the announcement Thursday afternoon on Facebook. Rilu began suffering from symptoms of the virus in early December 2021.

The snow leopard arrived at Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington in 2011 from the Oklahoma City Zoo. Since then, Rilu made seven cubs that are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP).

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.

“Rilu’s personality and beauty will be missed by guests and staff, but he will not be forgotten,” the zoo wrote on Facebook.

Miller Park Zoo Superintendent Jay Tetzloff said Rilu was his favorite animal at the zoo.

“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,” he said.

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