ASHEBORO — Oliver, the 17-year-old male cougar at the North Carolina Zoo, was euthanized Thursday after months of declining health for the big cat.
Failing kidneys and difficulty walking troubled Oliver, who had a rich, full life, according to Dr. Ryan DeVoe, the zoos senior veterinarian. By age 12, cougars are considered geriatric.
General Curator Ken Reininger said that the aged cougar would be missed.
Ollie had many admirers among the staff, volunteers and zoo visitors, Reininger said. The Cypress Swamp keepers (where Oliver was kept) had been his care givers for many years, one of them since the day Ollie arrived, and they are heartbroken at this loss.
Rescuers with the Michigan Anticruelty Association took Oliver from an illegal owner when he was four months old. He has been at the N.C. Zoo since 1997.
Knowing that Oliver was in poor health, the zoo has been working to locate a replacement through the Cougar Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Three cougar cubs from the Oregon Zoo should arrive in Asheboro in February to replace him. Since they will be so young, Reininger said they might not immediately go on display.