18-year-old leopard dies at Great Bend Zoo

GREAT BEND, Kan. Great Bend's Brit Spaugh Zoo Wednesday announced its African Leopard, Banera, died just two days short of her 19th birthday.

"Banera was humanely euthanized (Wednesday) after animal care staff and veterinarians had determined that her quality of life had deteriorated to a point that we could no longer keep her comfortable," the zoo says.

Banera had been treated for severe arthritis for the past six years, the zoo says. It says African leopards live up to 12 years in the wild and up to 21 years in managed care.

The black-coated leopard moved to the Great Bend zoo when she was only 10 days old in June of 2000. Due to being hand raised, the zoo says Banera always enjoyed human comfort, making her a staff favorite.

"Whenever I had a bad day, I would get out of the office and pay a visit to Banera," Brit Spaugh Zoo Supervisor/Curator Sara Hamlin says. "She would always come down off whatever bench she was napping on and greet me with excited meows. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the privilege to care for her."

The Great Bend zoo says its other leopard, Toby, "will remain on exhibit to be an ambassador for his species."