Oklahoma City Zoo Announces Death of Female Fishing Cat, Miri

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden announces the death of Miri, a 15-year-old rare fishing cat. Miri was under veterinary care for kidney disease and most recently caretakers observed she was showing symptoms of decline including limited mobility and decreased appetite. On Sunday, February 27, the Zoo’s veterinary team administered an extensive exam including an ultrasound and bloodwork that confirmed Miri was in the advanced stages of chronic renal (kidney) failure, leading the vet and animal care teams to the difficult decision to humanely euthanize her. Kidney disease is common in all felids, wild and domestic.

The OKC Zoo welcomed Miri to its felid family from the San Diego Zoo in 2011. The Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Fishing Cat Species Survival Plan® (SSP) in support of fishing cat conservation, and received a recommendation for Miri to breed with the Zoo’s male fishing cat, Boon, 7. The pair are parents to Puddles, 4.

On March 31, 2018, Miri became the first fishing cat among AZA member zoos in North America, to have a kitten by caesarian delivery. Her kitten, Puddles, was born by caesarian delivery at the OKC Zoo’s Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital, after Miri surpassed her expected due date. Unfortunately, Miri lacked the maternal instincts to care for Puddles and the Zoo’s veterinary and carnivore teams began the process of hand-rearing him. Puddles was the first fishing cat born at the Zoo since 1997.

Caretakers shared that Miri willingly participated in training sessions for medical behaviors including ultrasounds and receiving subcutaneous fluids, and was also a fan of novel food items like salmon and interacting with enrichment including shredding boxes. Miri will be missed by many.

According to the AZA, the median life expectancy for female fishing cats is 12.8 years.

Fishing cats are native to south and southeast Asia. Since 2016, they have been listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list. Their populations have declined over the past decade due to habitat destruction. 

The Zoo remains home to three generations of male fishing cats – Chet, 12; Boon and Puddles, and guests can see them at the Cat Forest habitat, and will continue to work with the AZA’s Fishing Cat SSP to grow its fishing cat family. 

Photos courtesy of Mandi T.

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