Lions And Zoos

Cause of death of 13-year-old male lion tested positive for COVID confirmed by Honolulu zoo officials


HONOLULU (KHON2) – Officials at the Honolulu Zoo have received the histopathology report confirming that the cause of death of Ekundu, a 13-year-old male lion who tested positive for COVID, was acute respiratory distress.

Officials believe the cause is the result of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID in humans. As Ekundu was an older lion with underlying health issues, he did not respond to any treatment.

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On October 15, officials at the Honolulu Zoo announced that Ekundu and another 12-year-old lioness named Moxy had tested positive for the coronavirus.. They also revealed that Ekundu died on October 11; however, Moxy was expected to make a full recovery.

At first, zoo officials noticed that the two lions were showing symptoms of upper respiratory disease with coughing on October 4. Veterinary and animal care teams treated Ekundu, who was also treated for epilepsy for more than five years.

These treatments fixed Ekundu’s upper respiratory tract problems, but then he began to show signs of lower respiratory tract disease and difficulty breathing. Despite continued treatment and constant monitoring, Ekundu died a week after the onset of these symptoms.

Additionally, zoo officials said Moxy’s symptoms abated quickly, but she was also constantly watched and cared for. Moxy is fine.

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

The source of infection in lions remains unknown.