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

Local News

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

Officials believe the cause was a result of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID in humans. Since Ekundu was an older lion with underlying medical conditions, he did not respond to any treatment.

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

At first, zoo officials noticed both lions exhibited symptoms of an upper respiratory illness with coughing on Oct. 4. Veterinary and animal care teams provided treatment to Ekundu, who was also treated for epilepsy for over five years.

These treatments resolved Ekundu’s upper respiratory issues, but he then started to show signs of lower respiratory disease and difficulty breathing. Despite continued treatment and being constantly monitored, Ekundu died a week after these symptoms started.

Additionally, zoo officials said Moxy’s symptoms diminished quickly, but she was also constantly being monitored and given treatment. Moxy is doing OK.

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

The source of the lions’ infection remains unknown.

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