Himani, snow leopard whose seven cubs helped conservation efforts, dies aged 17

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A snow leopard which gained widespread attention for giving birth to seven cubs, contributing to efforts to protect her species, has died at 17 years old, a New Jersey zoo said on Sunday.

Himani reared four litters of cubs at a time when snow leopard breeding success was at a low point, according to a statement from Cape May County Zoo which also said the cat was “peacefully euthanized” on Friday, “following a battle with cancer”.

Himani was born in June 2003 and came to the Cape May County Zoo in 2009 from the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee, the Press of Atlantic City reported.

“Upon her arrival,” the zoo statement said, “she was paired with Vijay, the Zoo’s male snow leopard, and over the next four years, Himani and Vijay would successfully rear four litters of cubs. Himani proved to be an excellent mother, successfully raising seven healthy and strong cubs.”

Himani’s cubs were moved to zoos across the US, the zoo said, carrying “her legacy and genetics to raise cubs of their own.”

“Himani was an incredible mother, and an important member of our zoo family, she will certainly be missed by the staff and visitors,” said Dr Alex Ernst, associate veterinarian at the Cape May County Zoo.

“We feel fortunate that she was here with us during the past 12 years. Her contributions to the conservation of her species … are immeasurable.”

County commissioner E Marie Hayes said Himani “was a superstar and a huge draw for visitors … She will be missed.”

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