Banham Zoo leopard dies three months after giving birth

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Image source, Liam Austin/Facebook
Image caption,
Sariska gave birth to two cubs in June, but only her son Sariask is now alive

A zoo's "beloved" Sri Lankan leopard has died, three months after giving birth to two cubs.

Sariska, who had lived at Banham Zoo in Norfolk since 2015, died on Wednesday after being unwell for several weeks.

A post-mortem examination revealed the 13-year-old had a serious heart condition which would have led to her death within weeks, the zoo said.

Its joint managing director Gary Batters said she would be "greatly missed" by staff and visitors.

Further investigations will be carried out to try to ascertain the cause of Sariska's heart condition.

Image source, Liam Austin/Facebook
Image caption,
Sri Lankan tigers like Sariska can grow up to 1.9m (6ft) long

Sariska gave birth to the cubs in June, fathered by the zoo's male leopard Mias.

One died in August and the survivor has been renamed Sariask, an anagram of his "beloved" mother's name, Mr Batters said.

"Our focus will be on supporting the development of the leopard cub, to ensure he adapts as well as possible to the loss," he added.

Image source, Banham Zoo/Facebook
Image caption,
Banham's Amur tiger Sveta also died this summer

She is the third big cat to die at the zoo this summer, as well as her cub, Amur tiger Sveta, who died in June.

Banham Zoo is run by the charity the Zoological Society of East Anglia, which also runs Africa Alive in Suffolk.

It is part of the European Breeding Programme for the Sri Lankan leopard

Sri Lankan leopards are one of nine subspecies of the breed and are classed as vulnerable in the wild, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

They are native to Sri Lanka and can live for up to 20 years.

An IUCN assessment in October revealed fewer than 800 mature adults left.

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