The Potter Park Zoo family is mourning the loss of Little Girl, our 20 year old female snow leopard, who was humanely euthanized today following a decline in her health due to chronic kidney disease and progressive arthritis that worsened despite treatment.
Little Girl was the oldest snow leopard in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums at the time of her passing. Snow leopards have a median life expectancy of 15 years, and we were very fortunate to have Little Girl reach the milestone of 20 years. This is a testament to all of the people who have provided incredible animal care for her at Potter Park Zoo through the years. She would have turned 21 in April of this year.
This is a very hard time as the zoo staff mourns the loss of this amazing animal who was born at Potter Park Zoo 20 years ago. Little Girl was an ambassador to her species and Potter Park Zoo. She inspired millions of people who visited the zoo over the years and was adored by the entire animal care team she worked with.
Potter park zookeeper Annie and Liz were one of many team members here at the zoo who had a very special connection with Little Girl.
“Little Girl will always have a special place in my heart as one of the strongest willed animals I’ve ever worked with. She taught me a lot about patience and quick action since everything was either done on her schedule or not at all. I’ll miss watching her ‘parkour’ to the top rock to sleep and seeing her play chase with the tigers up and down their enclosure lines,” Liz shared.
Little Girl could be seen running, chasing and playing with Amur tiger Liya and it was an amazing thing to see. Zookeeper Annie shared that “Liya (the Amur tiger) will miss her too.”
Zookeeper Annie has worked with Little Girl for over 14 year. “It has been privilege to work with little girl over the last 14+ years. She has been a joy to work with. Because of her tremendously positive relationship with her zookeepers and vet staff, she contributed to the care of other snow leopards. Information we learned with regular voluntary ultrasounds during her pregnancy was published and added to the body of knowledge other zoos can pull from. As her trainer It was truly a joy to teach little girl and to learn from her. She has touched my heart and the lessons learned from this amazing animal have made me a better zookeeper and will positively affect the care I give to other animals.”
We appreciate everyone’s support through this tough time. We know the community is mourning along with us as we say good bye to this incredible cat.