Akron Zoo mourns loss of snow leopard

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AKRON, Ohio– The Akron Zoo is saying goodbye to one of its long-time residents.

(Photo courtesy: Akron Zoo)

Roscoe, a 14-year-old snow leopard, was euthanized on Wednesday.

The zoo said staff noticed a change in his appetite over the last few weeks and performed an exam. That revealed squamous cell carcinoma, a rapidly-growing bone cancer, in Roscoe’s jaw.

His health declined so fast that the Akron Zoo made the decision to humanely euthanize him. An exam last summer showed no signs of cancer.

“He was a laid back cat who had a great bond with Shanti. In fact they were able to be together at all times, which is rare for snow leopards, which are typically solitary animals,” said Dr. Kim Cook, Akron Zoo director of animal health and conservation.

(Photo courtesy: Akron Zoo)

Roscoe and Shanti had litters of cubs in 2012, 2014 and 2016. The most recent litter of three remains at the Akron Zoo, while the other four siblings are at other Association of Zoos and Aquariums- accredited facilities in the United States.

Researchers also froze the big cat’s sperm for future artificial insemination. The zoo said Roscoe’s legacy will help prevent snow leopard extinction.

“According to the Snow Leopard Trust at least one Snow Leopard is killed each day in the wild. With only a few thousand left on Earth we recognize the importance of the work we are doing to ensure the Snow Leopards survival,” said Doug Piekarz, Akron Zoo president and CEO, in a news release on Monday. “Roscoe will continue to play a critical role with his genetics preserved to help create a more genetically diverse future generation of snow leopards.”

Rosco was born at the San Antonio Zoo in 2003 and came to Akron in 2004.

Fourteen is the median life expectancy for snow leopards.

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