A17-year-old male cougar was euthanized Thursday at the North Carolina Zoo following a long period of declining health, according to a zoo release.
According to Zoo Senior Veterinarian Dr. Ryan DeVoe, “Oliver” had been under treatment for a variety of age-related problems for several months. By Thursday, those problems, including failing kidneys and difficulty walking, had reached a point where continued treatment would be ineffective, the veterinarian said.
But Oliver had lived a “rich, full life” at the zoo since October 1997, DeVoe noted, after he had been rescued from an illegal owner as a four-month-old cub by the Michigan Anti-Cruelty Association. Cougars are considered to be geriatric at around age 12.
“It is with great sadness that we report to you the loss of our beloved cougar Oliver,” General Curator Ken Reininger wrote in an e-mail to zoo staff. “Ollie had been in failing health for several months and the day had finally come to do what was best for him to prevent suffering.
“Ollie had many admirers among the staff, volunteers and zoo visitors,” Reininger noted. “The Cypress Swamp keepers (where the cougar exhibit is located) had been his care givers for many years, one of them since the day Ollie arrived, and they are heartbroken at this loss.”
Meanwhile, N.C. Zoo officials learned earlier this week that three cougar cubs—two females and a male estimated to be about three weeks old--that recently lost their mother to a hunter are slated to be transferred from the Oregon Zoo to Asheboro sometime in February.
Understanding that Oliver was in declining health, Reininger said the N.C. Zoo has been working with the Cougar Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for some time to locate young cougars for the Asheboro facility. However, due to their very young age which could mean months of hand rearing, it is uncertain when the cubs will be on exhibit, Reininger explained