The Akron Zoo announced that Roscoe, a 14-year-old male snow leopard, was humanely euthanized on July 26 after being diagnosed with a fast growing cancer that severely affected the bone in his lower jaw. The median life expectancy of a snow leopard is 14 years. Roscoe has been at the Akron Zoo since 2004 and has sired seven cubs during his time in Akron, three of which are still in Akron.
Within the last two weeks, keepers observed a change in appetite and behavior in Roscoe and the vet staff at the zoo performed an exam, which led to the diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma, bone cancer in Roscoe’s jaw. His appetite and activity began to rapidly decrease and the decision was made to humanely euthanize Roscoe. His annual preventive medicine exam last summer showed no signs of the cancer.
Snow leopards are an endangered species and the zoo participates in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), which includes a total of 167 snow leopards. Participation in the program has led to three successful litters with Roscoe and the zoo’s female snow leopard Shanti. Two cubs were born in 2012 and 2014 and three cubs were born in 2016 and are still at the Akron Zoo. The other four cubs are at other AZA accredited zoos in the U.S. In 2010 and 2012, the Akron Zoo worked with researchers to freeze Roscoe’s sperm to potentially use in the future for artificial insemination. With the advances in veterinary medicine, Roscoe’s legacy could continue for many generations and help to prevent the extinction of snow leopards.