The first clouded leopard to take up residence at Point Defiance Zoo was euthanized Thursday after an exam showed signs his chronic illnesses were worsening, officials said Friday.
Raja, 15, came to Tacoma in 1998 when he was 6 weeks old. He visited schools and interacted with zoo visitors when he was young and in 2003 sired the first cubs born at Point Defiance.
In recent years, he was treated for chronic bowel, kidney and pancreatic disease. Veterinarian Karen Wolf said the leopard stopped eating and taking his medication at the beginning of the week.
“It became a quality-of-life decision,” she said about euthanizing Raja.
Zoo staff members said Raja inspired their commitment to clouded leopard conservation, which led to the creation 13 years ago of the nonprofit Clouded Leopard Project. The group raises money for conservation projects.
“He inspired our staff and our visitors to care about clouded leopards and to take action to ensure their long-term survival in the wild,” said Maureen O’Keefe, a staff biologist who cared for Raja for 12 years.
The zoo now has five adult clouded leopards and one cub, Tien, who was born in May.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653