John Ball Zoo announces death of snow leopard, Elsie, who was 18 years old

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Posted at 12:49 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 12:53:27-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — John Ball Zoo’s female snow leopard, Elsie, has died.

At 18 years old, Elsie was among the oldest known snow leopards in human care, according to a news release Thursday.

She was diagnosed with advanced kidney failure after her health began declining last week.

Because kidney failure is common in older snow leopards, and given Elsie’s lack of response to treatment, her prognosis and age, animal care staff at the zoo decided to humanely euthanize Elsie.

Elsie was born June 25, 2003 and joined John Ball Zoo in November 2017 from Iowa.

“Elsie was a beautiful snow leopard that never missed out on an afternoon nap,” the zoo said in a statement. “She will be greatly missed.”

Snow leopards are listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List, with an estimated wild population of less than 10,000 mature adults.

John Ball Zoo participates in the snow leopard Species Survival Plan and partners with the Snow Leopard Trust.