POWELL, Ohio (WCMH) — A beloved and long-time resident of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been euthanized due to declining health.
Sita, a 23-year-old female African leopard, was put down Friday morning after her health had “significantly declined due to old age,” the zoo posted on Facebook.
The zoo said Sita’s lifespan was a long life for a leopard and also a testament to the care she received as part of the zoo’s Congo Expedition region.
Sita was born at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore on June 10, 1997, and made her way to the Columbus Zoo in June 2000 with her sister Ceja, who later went to the Memphis Zoo in 2005.
In the Facebook post, the zoo wrote that as she got older, Sita began having trouble grooming herself and quickly caught on to the zookeepers’ efforts to train her to accept a very long backscratcher. Sita got to the point where she often purred, chuffed, snarled and rubbed her face on the mesh for her keepers.
“She loved lying in the sun, rolling on okapi shavings, rolling on items that had perfume and lying on the various beds that were offered to her,” the post states.
The zoo said Sita, along with the zoo’s two African leopard brothers Tyrion and Jamie, was a wonderful ambassador for her species.
African leopards are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, with their numbers dwindling due to habitat loss, poaching, and human encroachment.