The Oklahoma City Zoo is sad to share that clouded leopard, Luke, was humanely euthanized Friday, January 24, after entering the final stages of chronic renal (kidney) failure. He came to the Zoo in December 2011 and would have turned 16 in February.
According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the median life expectancy for clouded leopards is 13.1 years. Kidney disease is common in both domestic and wild felids.
Zoo veterinarians diagnosed Luke with kidney disease in August 2018, but he didn’t have any signs of kidney failure until October 2019. When he declined to the point where medications were no longer keeping him comfortable, the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize.
According to his caretakers, Luke was shy and his trust had to be earned. Once he became familiar with someone, he would make a chuffing noise, which is like a greeting. They say the first time that Luke chuffed at you, it meant that he recognized you and felt comfortable with you.
Luke was highly engaged with enrichment, especially food-related enrichment. One of his favorites was frozen rabbit.
Native to Nepal and Bangladesh, clouded leopards are known as one of the best climbers in the felid family. The species’ flexible ankle joints, short and stout legs, large paws, long tail and sharp claws with specialized padding that conforms to the shape of branches, are all unique adaptations that contribute to their impressive arboreal skills. The species is able to climb upside down, hang from branches with its hind feet and descend from trees head first.
Clouded leopards in the wild are classified as vulnerable with declining populations due to human activity.
Photos: Mandi Sorenson and Imran Azhar