Sunday afternoon, officials with the El Paso Zoo announced the loss of their 21-year old Amur leopard, Ivan.
“The El Paso Zoo is very sad to say goodbye to Ivan, but thankful we were able to provide him with a long life,” said El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens Director Joe Montisano “It is a testament to animal keepers and the veterinarian staff that he exceeded his expectancy but we are glad we were able to keep him comfortable as he ended his journey on this earth, he will be missed.”
Ivan was diagnosed with a degenerative kidney disease for over two and a half years. After much discussion between his animal care team, the veterinary staff, and zoo management the decision was made that the best course of action would be euthanasia.
Amur leopards’ life expectancy is around 18 years. At 21 years old, Ivan exceeded this average. Ivan was trained to voluntarily take daily fluid injections, weekly arthritis medication injections, numerous oral medications for his kidney disease and arthritis, and to collect blood samples from his tail to monitor his health.
“Like many geriatric cats, Ivan was diagnosed with early stages of degenerative kidney disease over six years ago,” zoo staff shared. “This is unfortunately very common in all cats and what kills most domestic and exotic felines.”
Ivan had started to decline in other ways and appeared to have additional age-related medical problems developing and impacting his quality of life.
Officials with the zoo add that they have one female Amur leopard, Nastya, who is 17-years old. Zoo staff will be working with the SSP on acquiring another male companion for Nastya.
Ivan was born at the Erie Zoological Gardens on March 3, 1999. He arrived in El Paso in 2000 as part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). He was recommended for breeding and ended up siring five cubs, two in 2001 and three in 2003.