Snow Leopard celebrated for having 7 cubs now mourned after death to cancer

Himani, a 17-year-old snow leopard at the Cape May County Zoo in New Jersey, was more than a prolific breeding big cat.

She had seven healthy cubs, part of a species survival plan of one of the most endangered creatures in the world. She brought national attention to the facility, was the zoo’s matriarch and was beloved by all.

She was euthanized Feb. 12 after a battling cancer.

“She had been fighting cancer the past several months,” the zoo said in a statement on Valentine’s Day. “Himani’s impact on her caretakers, the Cape May County Zoo and the future of her species can’t be overstated.”

Himani was an excellent mother. Photo: Cape May County Zoo/Facebook

She born on June 1, 2003 and had lived at Cape May since 2009 after moving from the Knoxville Zoo.

“She is a mother of 7 cubs total and was an excellent mother,” the zoo explained. “Her keepers say she puts up a tough girl front but in reality is a very sweet cat and enjoys her keepers company.” 

Himani went on to become a grandmother and retire from breeding. Photo: Cape May County Zoo/Facebook

Her impact on the facility — and the species — was called “immeasurable.”

“Himani was an incredible mother and an important member of our zoo family,” Dr. Alex Ernst, associate veterinarian, Cape May County Zoo, said in a statement. “She will certainly be missed by the staff and visitors. We feel fortunate that she was here with us during the past 12 years. Her contributions to the conservation of her species and to the future of the Cape May County Zoo are immeasurable.”

The successful birth of each cub put the facility in the spotlight.

Himani went on to become a grandmother and was retired from breeding.

Himani brought national attention to the zoo. Photo: Cape May County Zoo/Facebook

County Commissioner E. Marie Hayes, liaison to the Cape May County Parks and Zoo, also passed along condolences.

“She was a superstar and a huge draw for visitors who made a visit to the Snow Leopard habitat one of their top attractions. I want to thank the zoo veterinarians and zoo staff for their care and dedication as they cared for Himani during her battle with cancer. She will be missed,” Hayes said.

With sadness we want to report that 'Himani', our 17 year old matriarch Snow Leopard, passed away on Friday February 12….

Posted by Cape May County Park/Zoo on Sunday, February 14, 2021

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