Columbus Zoo’s 14-year-old Amur tiger dies from COVID-19 complications

COLUMBUS — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is mourning the loss of its 14-year-old Amur tiger, Jupiter.

According to a social media post from the zoo, Jupiter passed away on Sunday, June 26 after developing pneumonia caused by the COVID-19 virus.

“Jupiter had been on long term treatment for chronic underlying illnesses, which made him more susceptible to this virus,” the post said.

Jupiter is the first animal at the Columbus Zoo to succumb to COVID-19, the zoo said.

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On Wednesday, June 22, Jupiter was reported by his care team to be acting ill. The zoo says he was not interested in eating, and was reluctant to stand, move or interact with keepers.

“When this continued into the next day, Jupiter was anesthetized for examination and treatment. Initial exams suggested an infection, and treatment was started. Unfortunately, Jupiter did not improve with this treatment and remained reluctant to move and eat,” the zoo said.

The following day, Jupiter was given additional treatments and had more diagnostic testing, the zoo said. Although he appeared stable, Jupiter passed away overnight.

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“As a precautionary measure, we are requiring staff working with cats, great apes and mustelids (i.e., otters, wolverines) to wear masks when within six feet of these animals. These animals are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19,” the zoo said.

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

He sired nine cubs, six were born at the Columbus Zoo, contributing to the future of this endangered species, according to the zoo.

The zoo says 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.

His care team also fondly remembers the trust they built with Jupiter over time through training and how he was always very friendly with the female tigers, Mara and Natasha, the zoo said.

“Jupiter will be greatly missed,” the zoo said.