Hogle Zoo is mourning the death of its snow leopard grande dame, Nema, who died Thursday at age 21.
“We are proud to say that Nema was the oldest snow leopard" in the Species Survival Plan, the zoo posted Sunday on Facebook. “We attribute her longevity to the wonderful daily care and health care the zoo provides.”
According to the Snow Leopard Conservancy, 21 years is the longest the animals have been known to live in captivity. There’s no information on the life expectancy for snow leopards in the wild, although their lives “are much harder, so they are undoubtedly much shorter.”
The Species Survival Plan is “like a massive computer dating [service] for zoo animals,” according to Hogle Zoo, and Nema “played an important role in the survival of her critically endangered species.”
She gave birth to two kittens: Himal, a male born in 2009 who was moved to a zoo in New England; and Chimeegui, a 7-year-old male who remains at the Utah zoo. (Hogle has one other snow leopard — Kisa, an 11-year-old female.)
According to the zoo, it is estimated there are between 3,500 and 7,000 snow leopards remaining in the wild and 600 to 700 in zoos.
“Nema was a very talkative and personable cat and her regal presence will be greatly missed,” according to Hogle Zoo.