Zoo's Snow Leopard Cub Dies Just Months After Naming Contest

Zara the snow leopard died after becoming ill. Cape May County Zoo

Just months after celebrating the arrival of its snow leopards, a South Jersey zoo is mourning one of the cubs.

Zara, one of two female snow leopard cubs born at the Cape May County Zoo in May, died Monday from an apparent infection, the zoo said in a statement.

Zara became “acutely ill on Friday and despite medical intervention and treatments, her health continued to deteriorate through the weekend,” zoo associate veterinarian Dr. Alexander Ernst said.

Zara died quietly after being transferred to Northstar Veterinary Hospital Monday for an MRI and neurological tests, the zoo said.

“Zara’s clinical signs, and MRI suggested she had a severe infectious encephalitis,” Ernst said. “Results are still pending that will identify the exact infectious agent. She was only four months old and still had an immature immune system which is why the infection acted so quickly and aggressively in her case.”

The Cape May Court House zoo unveiled Zara (meaning princess) and her sister, Ahana – both named as part of a contest – back in July. The cubs were born as part of a national program to help save the vulnerable species native to parts of Central Asia.

In the aftermath of Zara’s death, the zoo would keep an extra eye on Ahana and their mother Tysa.

Adorable Zoo Babies: Baby Panda A 6-month old female giant panda cub, an offspring of Xing Xing and Liang Liang, plays at the Giant Panda Conservation Center at the National Zoo in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Feb. 18, 2016. The two giant pandas have been on loan to Malaysia from China for 10 years since May 21, 2014, to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations. AP