Hunter, the Oklahoma City Zoo’s 16-year-old male mountain lion (or puma/cougar) was humanely euthanized Wednesday, January 23, at the Zoo’s Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital.
Hunter had been receiving supportive treatment for arthritis and kidney issues since 2015 and recently began demonstrating difficulty standing and moving. His hind legs were weak and he was likely experiencing pain due to degenerative spine disease. After concluding nothing more could be done medically, caretaker and veterinary teams made the difficult but necessary decision to humanely euthanize.
Hunter and his brother, Rolex, who passed in 2017, both arrived at the Zoo in September 2003 at about 6 months old after being confiscated from a wildlife pet breeder. They resided in Cat Forest before moving to the Oklahoma Trails’ habitat in 2007. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the median life expectancy for mountain lions is 13.6 years.
Although hundreds of animals native to Oklahoma share the Oklahoma Trails’ habitat, Hunter was a favorite to guests and to his caretakers. Mountain lions 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.
--Shawn Sims, Assistant Curator of Carnivores
Photo by Andrea Johnson