REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio – One of six animals that survived the Oct. 18 slaughter at a Zanesville, Ohio, exotic animal farm is dead, euthanized Sunday after a gate struck it in the neck.
The incident happened about 11 a.m. Sunday as a zookeeper was moving a male spotted leopard between enclosures for routine cleaning and feeding, said Tom Stalf, chief operating officer at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The leopard, which was about 3 years old, walked from one enclosure to the next but darted back just as the door was being lowered.
A zoo veterinarian was able to restart the leopard's heart with chest compressions, but it was determined the animal had suffered irreversible spinal cord injury and was unable to breathe on its own. Dr. Tony Forshey, head of the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Division of Animal Health, responded to the emergency call and made the decision to euthanize the leopard.
X-rays from before and after the leopard's death indicated it had congenitally defective malformed vertebrae in the neck, which weakened its cervical spine and could have compounded the severity of the injury. The leopard also had old injuries that had not healed properly, including broken bones in its back and tail, Stalf said.
The leopard was one of six animals transported to Columbus Zoo after Terry Thompson released 56 wild animals from his farm before killing himself.
It was being housed in the zoo's quarantine area, which is built to hold anything from small animals to gorillas, Stalf said. So doors between the enclosures, which are lever-operated and slide up and down, are extremely heavy.
The leopard's body was taken to the state Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory for an autopsy, but results likely will not be available for four to six weeks.
The five remaining Zanesville animals at the zoo — two leopards, two macaque monkeys and a grizzly bear — are still under quarantine here, awaiting testing by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
The animals all are doing well, Stalf said, but a timeline for their testing still has not been set.