Famous Snow Leopard at Illinois Zoo dies from COVID-19 induced pneumonia


BLOOMINGTON, I.L. (WMBD) – Rilu, an 11-year-old Snow Leopard housed at Bloomington’s Miller Park Zoo, has died after suffering from COVID-19-induced pneumonia, the zoo confirms.

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

The Snow Leopard came to Miller Park Zoo 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.

In the post, staff members said “Rilu’s personality and beauty will be missed by guests and staff, but he will not be forgotten.”

Additionally, even the Superintendent of the Zoo weighed in.

“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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