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Living Desert Leopard Dies

Jaffa King

Living Desert Leopard Dies

CREATED Apr. 5, 2012

INDIAN WELLS - One of the oldest Amur leopards in captivity, who happened to call The Living Desert home, has died.

Zoo officials said the rare 19-year-old female leopard, named Kishka, suffered from chronic age-related kidney disease and was euthanized; following the humane guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Dr. Kevin Leiske, Veterinarian at The Living Desert said, "Kishka, was diagnosed in 2010 with kidney problems and her appetite severely decreased over the last 10 days. She also suffered from degenerative disc disease resulting in significant discomfort when running and jumping. This, combined with the progressive nature of the renal disease, compromised her quality of life significantly. She long exceeded her expected life-span and sadly, it was simply 'her time'."
Kishka came to The Living Desert in 1999, and was one of two Amur leopards at The Living Desert, the other being her brother from the same litter, named Khan.
Stacey Johnson, President and CEO of The Living Desert said, "Kishka beautifully represented the Amur leopard sub-species and lived a very long and happy life. The oldest living Amur leopard in captivity is 22 years old and Kishka would have been 20 this year. In the wild, their life expectancy is 10-12 years at best, so we feel quite fortunate to have had her for such a long time." He added, "We are currently looking to procure two more Amur Leopards but cannot introduce a younger animal with Khan, who will live out his life in his exhibit. Before we feel too badly for Khan, it is important to note that these leopards are predominantly solitary animals."
The Amur leopard is considered to be one of the most critically-endangered big cats in the world - with under 40 remaining in the wild, all in the Russian Far East; and nearly 200 in zoos, mostly in Europe and North America.  
According to the most recent genetic study, the Amur leopard is one of ten living subspecies of leopard, but it is especially distinctive due to a particularly pale coat compared to most other subspecies, and dark rosettes which are large and widely spaced with thick, unbroken rings. This beautiful leopard is equally adapted to living in the harsh, cold climates or in arid, desert environments. Leopards are known for their distinctive rasping call, rather than a growl, as their main vocalization, are strong swimmers and climbers; often hiding their food in trees and saving it for later. Males Amur leopards typically weigh 198 pounds whereas females grow to only approximately 132 pounds.
About the Living Desert: The Living Desert is an AZA-accredited zoo and gardens, dedicated to the mission of desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.  A non-profit, accredited 501 (3)(c) organization, It is a family friendly place to explore nature and create meaningful experiences for visitors that are remembered for a lifetime.
For more information call (760) 346-5694 or visit