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Leopard Released In Zanesville Euthanized After Spinal Cord Injury At Zoo


UPDATED: Monday January 30, 2012 6:40 PM

The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced Monday that a male spotted leopard held at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was euthanized after suffering a spinal cord injury at the zoo.

The leopard was being held at the zoo after being released from Terry Thompson’s exotic animal farm in Zanesville on Oct. 18, 10TV’s Justin Moss reported.

According to officials, the leopard suffered a spinal cord injury after it darted under a door as it was being lowered. The cat was struck on the neck.

“Animals are unpredictable,” Dale Schmidt, president of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, said. “They get used to certain procedures, and one never knows what they’re going to do.”

Schmidt said that the zoo was going to take a closer look at its procedures.

“Anytime there’s an incident, we have a review procedure,” Schmidt said. “We’ve put that into place. We are, as we speak, investigating now how things happened, how we could do things better.”

A zoo veterinarian found the animal unresponsive and began chest compressions. It was soon discovered that the cat had suffered an irreversible spinal cord injury and was unable to breathe on its own.

Examinations before and after the animal’s death showed that he was born with a malformed vertebrae in his neck that could have added to the injury that ultimately killed him. He also had old injuries that had not healed properly.

“It’s an incredible tragedy,” Schmidt said. “Our team is heartbroken at the loss of any animal, and we had grown close to this animal as we do every animal on the property.”

Schmidt said that the five other animals taken from Thompson’s property had been making improvements.

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