Zoo New England mourns death of snow leopard
Thursday March 6, 2014
Boston, Mass. – Zoo New England’s Stone Zoo is sad to report that Tang, a female snow leopard, died on February 28.
The 19-year-old snow leopard, who made her home in Stone Zoo’s Himalayan Highlands, was being treated for chronic kidney disease and age-degenerative issues with her spine. In the days leading up to her death, her spinal issues started to affect her hind legs and she had stopped responding to medication. Due to this, the Zoo staff made the decision to humanely euthanize her.
“The veterinary and animal care staff takes extraordinary care of the geriatric animals as they do with all of the animals in our collection,” said Dr. Eric Baitchman, Zoo New England Director of Veterinary Services. “With our older animals, we do everything we can to ensure they enjoy a comfortable life as they continue to age, which is often far longer than the median life expectancy. Tang will be greatly missed by the staff and the many visitors who came to see her throughout the years.”
The median life expectancy for snow leopards is 14 years old. Tang came to Zoo New England’s Franklin Park Zoo in 1996 and could be seen in the Children’s Zoo before moving to her new home in Stone Zoo’s Himalayan Highlands in 1998.
Zoo New England participates in the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. Tang gave birth to three cubs in 1999 and two cubs in 2005. Her granddaughter, Kira, lives at Stone Zoo and can be seen on exhibit with her mate Harry.
Tang’s story highlights the challenges of caring for geriatric animals. Whether providing chopped hay, which is easier for some older animals to digest, adjusting a platform so an older tree kangaroo doesn’t have to jump up, or giving one of the gorillas a daily dose of Metamucil, an animal’s needs can change throughout the aging process.
Zoo New England manages Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham. Both are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Zoo New England's mission is to inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations by creating fun and engaging experiences that integrate wildlife and conservation programs, research, and education.