Rolling Hills Zoo is mourning the loss of one of its animal family. Darius, the zoo’s 18-year-old Amur leopard, has passed away.
According to the zoo, over the past year Darius has been treated for renal failure, and while his kidney function was declining, it was within the last week that his blood work indicated he was in stage 4 kidney failure. Unfortunately kidney failure is relatively common in big cats as part of the aging process, as it is in domestic cats. While one can only “buy” a little more time with supportive care, chronic kidney failure is not reversible. Once Darius became more lethargic and stopped eating, combined with the lab findings, it was decided that humanely euthanizing him was the kindest option available. Darius’ body has been transported to K-State for a necropsy.
Born at the Erie Zoo, Erie, Pennsylvania on June 30, 2002, Darius moved to Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot, North Dakota in October 2003. Then in June 2011, due to the floods in Minot, Darius was transferred to the Tanganyika Wild Animal Park before coming to Rolling Hills Zoo in December 2011.
At Rolling Hills Darius was a master artist who loved to play with the keepers. Darius did take his time in warming up to the keepers though, but once they earned his trust they saw a very different side of him. Since he was also a bit camera shy and didn’t like to be watched when eating or getting enrichment, he made getting great photos that much more special.
“Being solitary by nature, it was always a highlight of my day when Darius would come over and lay down in front of me or roll over and show me his stomach and reach his paws out toward me,” shared Head Keeper, Devney Olson-Bowen. “Many saw what they thought was a grumpy old man, but I saw a very sweet and good natured handsome boy. I will miss him running up to meet me, and his calls out to the other animals in the park every day. He always let everyone know he was there. He will forever hold a very dear place in my heart, and I am a better keeper and a better person for having worked with him.”