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Potter Park Zoo Mourns Loss of Snow Leopard

October 4th, 2011

Potter Park Zoo is saddened to announce the death of Ramir, a 14-year-old snow leopard.

“Snow leopards are beautiful creatures, and a favorite among visitors and staff alike,” said Sherrie Graham, Executive Director of the Potter Park Zoological Society. “Ramir will be greatly missed.”

Ramir came to Potter Park Zoo in December 2010 after a recommendation by the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) to transfer him from Sacramento Zoo. The SSP keeps records of all animals in captivity and advises zoos on breeding plans to perpetuate each species. Ramir was believed to be a good genetic match for Serena, Potter Park Zoo’s 13-year-old female snow leopard. Shortly after his arrival and failed attempts at breeding, physical examinations by both Potter Park Zoo and Michigan State University veterinary staff revealed infertility and lymphoma in the animal.

“Ramir’s cancer didn’t go into remission after chemotherapy,” explained Dr. Tara Harrison, veterinarian at Potter Park Zoo. “He was stable for a while but last week his health deteriorated rapidly, and ultimately he lost his battle with cancer.”

Potter Park Zoo’s recent master plan includes a premiere animal care facility as its main priority. Through a strong partnership with Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the new hospital will allow for more aggressive research to further Potter Park Zoo’s commitment to conservation and education.

Ramir was born in 1997 at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and spent five years at Sacramento Zoo before coming to Potter Park Zoo. Snow leopards are an endangered species, and are one of more than 300 Species Survival Plans administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Ramir and Serena have both been part of the Snow Leopard SSP, and Serena has participated in some groundbreaking research with artificial insemination. She recently underwent a complete mastectomy because of suspected mammary cancer. Biopsy results and course of treatment are pending.