Some sad news to report, Elsie, the female snow leopard at John Ball Zoo has died.

18-year-old Elsie has been at the John Ball Zoo since November of 2017. The snow leopard was born in Iowa in captivity June 25, 2003.

According to FOX 17, Elsie was among the oldest known snow leopards in human care. She had been recently diagnosed with advanced kidney failure. Staff at John Ball Zoo noticed last week that her health had been rapidly declining.

Apparently kidney failure is common with older snow leopards. John Ball Zoo issued a statement that said, "Elsie was a beautiful snow leopard that never missed out on an afternoon nap. She will be greatly missed."

John Ball Zoo staff attempted to treat Elsie but with her age she did not respond. Rather than let Elsie suffer in pain her final days, zoo staff decided to humanely euthanize her.

Snow leopard are native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. They are a very beautiful animal but unfortunately that are listed as "vulnerable" by the IUCN Red List, because the global population is estimated to number few than 10,000 mature cats and they say that number will decrease by 10% by 2040.

Snow leopards outside of zoo's are heavily threatened by poaching and destruction to their habitat. Snow leopards are found at elevations from 9,800 feet to 14,800 feet. They can be found ranging from eastern Afghanistan, the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, to southern Siberia, Mongolia and western China.

John Ball Zoo works with the Snow Leopard Trust on the snow leopard Species Survival Plan.

Earlier this year Docha the lion passed away at the John Ball Zoo due to natural causes.

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