A popular 20-year-old female leopard that had lived at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore since 1995 was euthanized on Thursday morning after a battle with mammary cancer, according to zoo officials.
The leopard, Amari, came to Baltimore with a male leopard named Hobbes when both were 2-years-old, after their parents were killed by poachers. Amari quickly became a favorite of visitors to the zoo, officials said. She and Hobbes, not siblings, lived in an enclosure with a 200-year-old white oak tree, and produced two female offspring together in 1997.
Leopards in the wild often pull their kills into trees for safekeeping, and Amari did the same with her food. She'd also watch other animals in their enclosures from her perch in the oak, officials said.
"She was very adept at learning new behaviors, allowing the keepers and veterinarians to provide excellent care for her throughout her life here at the Zoo," said Mike McClure, the zoo's general curator, in a statement. "Some of my fondest memories are of seeing Amari in her tree and watching her raise her cubs because she came to the Zoo the same year that I did."
Amari's cancer, common in cats, had spread to her lymph nodes, officials said. She was under special care, but officials had been determined that invasive treatments would not have been successful because of her advanced age. Twenty is old for leopards.
"We have been keeping her level of care consistent and monitoring her for any signs of lethargy or discomfort, adjusting medications for pain as necessary," said Ellen Bronson, the zoo's chief veterinarian. "Unfortunately, it became apparent that her quality of life was in decline and we knew the disease was taking its toll on her."
Amari leaves behind Hobbes, who is 19 and still lives in the zoo's leopard exhibit, and many human fans, the zoo said.
"Amari will be missed by all of us, including me," said Don Hutchinson, the zoo's president and CEO, in a statement. "During my walks around the campus, I always made it a point to stop and visit the leopards. She was one of my favorites."