(AP) NASHVILLE, Tenn.
A 17-year-old cheetah, believed to be North America’s oldest captive-born female of the species, has died, the Nashville Zoo said Monday.
The cheetah named Louise was euthanized Jan. 2 after an examination revealed kidney failure, zoo officials said. Her condition was diagnosed after zoo workers noticed she was not eating and losing weight.
“Louise was surprisingly healthy and vigorous for such a geriatric feline until her recent sudden decline,” zoo veterinarian Dr. Sally Nofs said.
Cheetahs in captivity generally live to be 8 to 12 years old, zoo officials said.
According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Program database, Louise was the oldest female in North America and a brother from the same litter now living at the Columbus Zoo is the oldest male, AZA spokesman Steve Feldman said.
Louise was born May 23, 1989, at the Toledo Zoo, and she came to Nashville in October 1999.
“Louise loved to rub against the trees to groom herself. She would spend hours just lying in the sun,” zookeeper Jessica Huff said.
Louise was the last cheetah at the Nashville Zoo and officials haven’t decided whether to continue trying to exhibit the species, zoo spokesman Jim Bartoo said.
Cheetahs are an endangeredspecies with about 9,000 to 12,000 living in the wild in eastern and southern Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, Iran and Pakistan.
Since Louise’s death, the AZA database shows the oldest female cheetah is at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, Feldman said.