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Snow leopard at Sacramento Zoo euthanized after back injury

A snow leopard at the Sacramento Zoo has been euthanized after suffering from severe traumatic injuries to her back, zoo officials said.

Shanti, who at 20 years old was one of the oldest snow leopards in captivity, suffered severe damage to her vertebrae.

“It was pretty clear that the prognosis was not good and her quality of life was starting to suffer, infection had kicked in and the neurological issues were getting worse, so we made the difficult decision on Friday afternoon to go ahead and euthanize her,” said Sacramento Zoo Director of Animal Care R. Harrison Edell.

It's unclear exactly how Shanti suffered the injury, but she suffered a bite wound which indicated aggression between her and her young male companion, whom she lived with for the past seven months.

“On the one hand we want to make sure the animals express natural behaviors and interact with one another naturally," Edell said. "The down side of that is that there are many hours in the day that we can’t necessarily monitor every interaction."

Zoo employees said Shanti will be sorely missed.

“The snow leopard was just a loved animal and I do wish that it could have gone in a more peaceful manner. I definitely think that the snow leopard will be looked back on as a loved animal than more than an animal that had kind of a rough end,” worker Chris Harvey said.

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