An 18-year-old critically endangered Amur leopard at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo has died of cancer, just a short time after the death of two sea lions.
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo announced on Facebook Ussuri passed away on April 23. The animal didn’t show signs of abnormalities until April 20 when a member of his animal care team noticed swelling on one side of his neck. The zoo put him on medicates to reduce the inflammation, but when it didn’t change, he was scheduled for an exam on April 23.
During a veterinary exam, cancer was found to be the cause of the swelling. It had spread to the back of his throat as well as the lymph nodes in his neck. Biopsies were taken to confirm the diagnosis, but the zoo said he stopped breathing during recovery.
A necropsy confirmed he had extensive cancer. The exact type will be determined after a report is complete.
“We are comforted in knowing that Ussuri lived a full, happy life in his retirement here, and that this cancer did not result in any prolonged discomfort,” the zoo said in its Facebook post.
He came to the zoo in January 2016 at the age of 15 so he could spend his retirement there. The median life expectancy for Amur leopards in the species survival plan (AZA SSP) is 18.1 years. Ussuri lived to be 18.4.
“His keepers say he was a very talkative cat and they will miss his morning and evening greetings that were half meow/half growl. They were honored to work with such a charismatic animal and will miss his beautiful spirit,” said the zoo.
Ussuri’s death comes shortly after two sister sea lions, Grits and Fishbone, died. Fishbone died April 17 during a medical procedure. Grits was euthanized on March 30 after falling ill. It’s unknown what caused their deaths.