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Beloved 18-year-old Jaguar dies at the Akron Zoo after battle with cancer

Posted at 12:00 PM, Nov 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-08 12:00:07-05

AKRON, Ohio — A beloved jaguar at the Akron Zoo died after complications associated with mammary cancer, according to a news release from the zoo.

The female jaguar, named Naom, was diagnosed with cancer in August this year after her care team found a mass growing on her abdomen. Biopsy results showed the mass was cancerous. Because she was 18.5 years old, the zoo said surgery was not in her best interest so the team humanely euthanized her. The median life expectancy for jaguars is 18 years old.

Dr. Kim Cook, senior director of life sciences at the Akron Zoo, said mammary cancer is hormonally linked in all animals.

“Jaguars are more prone to mammary cancer than other big cats, and there are ongoing studies meant to figure out why that is. We know there are genetic links, and we are finding out some very interesting things about the BRCA1 gene in jaguars,” Cook said.

Born on Feb. 15, 2001 at the Audubon Nature Institute, she came to the zoo in May 2002.

“Naom was a longtime member of our Akron Zoo family and she will be dearly missed,” said Doug Piekarz, president and CEO at the Akron Zoo. “I want to express my heartfelt thanks to her professional care team for providing Naom with the best care possible throughout her life, especially over the past few months in her battle with cancer.”

Naom's daughter, Bella, remains in the jaguar habitat. Visitors can see her, weather permitting.

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