A zoo based in Seattle had to say goodbye to its 17-year-old male snow leopard after its medical condition proved too much for the animal.
According to officials at the Woodland Park Zoo, the male big cat, whom they named Dhirin (pronounced DIH-dihn), was euthanized. The sad event took place on Tuesday. The zoo made the difficult decision after he had suffered severe respiratory issues and kidney failure.
Per reports from Dr. Tim Storms, director of animal health at the Washington zoo, the elderly snow leopard had previously been diagnosed with renal disease. He was diagnosed with the medical condition over a year ago. However, he said his condition worsened over the last few days. As a result, zoo officials made the tough decision to euthanize the animal as humanely as possible.
Although it was a difficult day, the leopard lived quite a long life. According to reports, the life expectancy for animals held in captivity is between 17 to 19-years-old. On the other hand, snow leopards in the wild usually live between 10 to 12 years on average.
The Woodland Park Zoo received Dhirin after he left the Oklahoma City Zoo in 2014. While at the Oklahoma zoo, he also sired two cubs. He was later transferred to the zoo in Washington as part of the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan’s breeding initiative.
Although Dhirin will be missed, he leaves behind other snow leopards at the Seattle zoo, including Helen and Aibek, along with another female Marai (muh-RYE). The leopards reside in the zoo’s Australasia habitat.
Zoo releases statement following snow leopard’s death, says big cat was calm and sweet
According to Pat Owen, an animal care manager at Woodland Park Zoo, Dhirin acted as “an ambassador for his cousins in their natural range.”
“It’s always difficult and sad saying goodbye to the animals in our care. Dhirin was known to be calm with a sweet, sometimes aloof, very cat-like personality,” said Owen. “We’re going to miss this beautiful snow leopard.”
Following his passing, the zoo will perform a postmortem exam. This will help them better understand if any other factors may have contributed to his health problems.
The Washington zoo has welcomed snow leopards since the big cats first arrived from the USSR in 1972.
Since the creation of the Under the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan, the zoon has seen the birth of 35 cubs. As a result, these cats have helped diversify the genetic pool of other leopards who live in zoos across the country.
The animal is also native to the mountainous ranges of Central Asia and Russia, including Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, and Pakistan.
The snow leopard population is estimated to be between 3,920 and 6,390, according to Seattle-based Snow Leopard Trust.