Beloved Puma Passes Away
Rollie, the Zoo’s beloved, 14-year-old, male puma (or cougar) died unexpectedly Tuesday morning, April 11, in his Oklahoma Trails habitat. His morning routine seemed normal. His caretakers had just delivered his morning diet. He began eating and suddenly had a seizure. The caretakers immediately contacted the vet care team which rushed to the habitat but, unfortunately, Rollie had already passed away. He was off public view at the time.
Although Rollie had surpassed a cougar’s median life expectancy of 13.6 years, he was in good health and not showing any signs of being ill prior to the seizure. The vet care team conducted his annual wellness exam earlier this year and his health assessment was normal. The vet care team will conduct a necropsy (animal autopsy) to determine Rollie’s cause of death.
Rollie and his brother, Hunter, both arrived at the Zoo in September 2003 at about 6 months of age. He was first known by his formal name, Rolex, but his caretakers affectionately began calling him Rollie, and it stuck. He and Hunter resided in Cat Forest and then Lion Overlook before being among the first animals to live in the Zoo’s 8-acre Oklahoma Trails’ habitat, which opened to the public in March 2007 and was one of the first exciting activities to mark the state’s centennial celebration.
Although hundreds of animals native to Oklahoma share the Oklahoma Trails’ habitat, such as black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, wolves, bald eagles, rattlesnakes and roadrunners, Rollie was a Zoo favorite to guests and his caretaking team. He was often sited “stalking” those nearby and appeared to enjoy engaging with people. Cougars, known by many names including panther, puma, catamount and mountain lion, play an important role in their ecosystem. As one of the top predators in North America, they help control deer and other animal populations from reaching unhealthy levels. These felines average 7- to 9-feet long, including a 2- to 3-foot tail, and weigh 130 to 200 pounds when fully grown.
Farewell, Rollie! You were a model ambassador for your species and you will be missed!
--Shawn Sims, animal caretaker