A snow leopard named Zoe died at the Santa Barbara Zoo on Valentine’s Day, zoo officials reported Monday.
The zoo says at 15-years-old, Zoe was considered elderly and was being treated for age-related ailments, including osteoarthritis, renal failure, and hypertension, but her death was sudden and unexpected. The zoo’s veterinary team reportedly tried to resuscitate the animal but was unsuccessful.
A necropsy was performed, but zoo officials say it did not reveal a cause of death. Tissue samples sent to a lab are expected in a few weeks.
The zoo’s director of animal care and health, Dr. Julie Barnes, says she suspects a heart attack or a stroke.
The zoo says Zoe’s body has been sent to Midwestern University in Arizona for a study on the vascular anatomy of snow leopards, which are highly endangered in their home range of Central Asia.
Zoe was one of two snow leopards at the zoo. Everett, Zoe’s companion, is 21-years-old. He is currently the oldest snow leopard in any zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.