The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore announced on Thursday the passing of Amari, a 20-year-old female leopard who was a long-time favorite among staff and guests.
Amari was euthanized after a battle with mammary cancer, a common disease in felines.
“This is a sad day for The Maryland Zoo and our community,” said Don Hutchinson, President & CEO of The Maryland Zoo. “Amari will be missed by all of us, including me. During my walks around the campus, I always made it a point to stop and visit the leopards. She was one of my favorites.”
Amari arrived at the zoo in in 1995 as a two-year-old from the Pretoria National Zoological Gardens in South Africa. Both Amari and Hobbes, the zoo’s male leopard, were orphaned as cubs when their parents were poached, although the two were not siblings.
The big cats were rescued and raised in Pretoria together, and subsequently both came to the Maryland Zoo. They lived along the boardwalk in Africa, in an exhibit built specifically for leopards due to the presence of an iconic 200-year-old white oak tree, known as the “Leopard Tree.” The two produced two female offspring in 1997.
“In the wild, leopards often store their kill in a tree for safekeeping after a hunt. Here at the Zoo, Amari often took her enrichment items into the tree or climbed up to watch the animals on the other side of the boardwalk,” commented Mike McClure, general curator at the Zoo. “She was very adept at learning new behaviors, allowing the keepers and veterinarians to provide excellent care for her throughout her life here at the Zoo. Some of my fondest memories are of seeing Amari in her tree and watching her raise her cubs because she came to the Zoo the same year that I did.”
“Amari was diagnosed with mammary cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes,” stated Dr. Ellen Bronson, chief veterinarian for the Maryland Zoo. “As an elderly cat, many treatment options would have been invasive and would not have significantly improved her prognosis. We have been keeping her level of care consistent and monitoring her for any signs of lethargy or discomfort, adjusting medications for pain as necessary. Unfortunately, it became apparent that her quality of life was in decline and we knew the disease was taking its toll on her.”
Amari was the Maryland Zoo’s Groundhog Day prognosticator last year. She correctly chose a box decorated with spring images and filled with meat treats to predict an early spring arrival.
Hobbes, 19, continues to reside in the leopard exhibit.