Chattanooga Zoo Grieves The Loss Of Snow Leopard, Everest; Announces Arrival Of Orphaned Cougar Cubs

Thursday, January 31, 2013
- photo by Chattanooga Zoo

Everest, the Chattanooga Zoo’s four-month old snow leopard, has died. Zookeepers found Everest unmoving Wednesday morning in his enclosure.

Preliminary necropsy findings showed a large, likely congenital tumor in Everest’s heart which caused acute cardiac arrest. Dr. Anthony Ashley, Chattanooga Zoo veterinarian said that “since Everest displayed no outward signs of low energy, getting winded easily or listlessness, there was no reason for Zoo staff to suspect heart trouble. Therefore, sedating the cub for an echocardiogram would have been an unnecessary and likely fatal procedure.”

Bob Donnell, board certified Anatomic pathologist and associate professor at the University of Tennessee’s School of Veterinary Medicine said, “While congenital tumors in the heart cell wall are commonly found in human newborns, the occurrence in wild animals is typically pretty rare.” 

Everest is currently undergoing further histologic evaluation to determine whether or not the tumor was malignant or if any other factors might have contributed to his death. Results from this evaluation will be available within the next four to six weeks.

“The entire Zoo staff is completely shocked and devastated by the loss of Everest. We have lost a member of our family,” said Zoo Executive Director, Darde Long. “Although only four months old, Everest, was beginning to exhibit his own unique personality, love for family and the outdoors.”

Everest was born at the Chattanooga Zoo on Oct. 2, 2012. He is survived by his sister, Maliha, and parents, Czar and Kasimir.

As a tribute to Everest, the Chattanooga Zoo will contribute $2 of each paid admission this Saturday, to snow leopard conservation. Guests can write and hang farewell messages to Everest on the downstairs Himalayan Passage viewing window.

The zoo is announced the arrival of two five-month old cougar cubs. The brother and sister were found orphaned and starving in a chicken coop in Montana by Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Park Services. It is
not clear what happened to the cubs’ mother but both cougars were severely emaciated upon rescue.

The cougars were picked up in Montana by Oregon Zoo staff, who then cared for the cubs until transfer to the Chattanooga Zoo, the cougars new home, could be arranged. The cougar cubs arrived safely in Chattanooga on Tuesday.

The male cub weighs 37 pounds and the female cub weighs 32.

“All of us at the Chattanooga Zoo are simply thrilled to have these two precious cougar cubs
here at our Zoo,” says Zoo Executive Director Darde Long. "Their story of survival sends a
wonderful conservation message and we feel privileged to provide them with a permanent home.”

The two cubs will share their home with existing Cougar Express resident, Mia Mia. Although still fairly shy, the cubs have formed a strong bond with each other and zoo staff is hopeful that bond will soon extend to zoo keepers and the zoo’s existing older cougar.

Given that the cubs were rescued from the wild, they will be in quarantine for the next three months. Once the quarantine period has been completed and the cubs show no health problems, the cubs will be released onto exhibit.

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