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Texas facility’s jaguar dies

Piedras, the Texas Zoo’s 24-year-old jaguar, dies

By BY ALLISON MILES – AMILES@VICAD.COM
Originally published January 4, 2010 at 6:57 p.m., updated January 4, 2010 at 11:15 p.m.

Piedras, the Texas Zoo’s last remaining jaguar, died in his sleep Friday morning.

A necropsy determined the 24-year-old animal died of heart failure due to old age, said Andrea Blomberg, the zoo’s director.

The average life span for a jaguar in the wild is 12 to 15 years, Blomberg said, and up to 23 years in captivity.

“He outlived his time,” Blomberg said. “But it is very unfortunate because we all love it. With something that beautiful, your heart melts.”

Piedras came to Victoria in 2006 from the San Antonio Zoo, Blomberg said, and was the second oldest jaguar in captivity. The zoo’s other jaguar, a female named Rio, died of natural causes in April.

A local veterinarian visits the zoo weekly to evaluate the animals’ health. But there were no indications during his Thursday exam that Piedras would not be alive the next morning, Blomberg said. The only thing the animal needed was help with arthritis.

“He was on medications to help with aching joints,” she said on Monday.

The University of Houston-Victoria unveiled its nickname, the Jaguars, in March 2007 outside the zoo’s jaguar exhibit, university President Tim Hudson said in an e-mail.

“We are very sorry to hear that this has happened,” he said. “We always felt a special connection with both Rio and Piedras.”

The zoo hopes to bring in another large cat, Blomberg said, although she was unsure whether it would be a jaguar.

As for Piedras, the staff hopes to gain closure on the animal’s death.

Piedras will be cremated, Blomberg said, partly because it means there will be no constant reminder of how wonderful he was.

“It’ll be easier for us to move on,” she said.

http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2010/jan/04/am_jaguar_010510_80251/?news

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

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