Cheyenne Mountain Zoo mourns loss of young mountain lion

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COLORADO SPRINGS — The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is mourning the unexpected loss of Sequoia, a female mountain lion, who passed away Sunday night.

Sequoia and her sister Adira were spayed on Thursday, Jan. 9. Sequoia passed away after some post-surgical complications from the surgery. Veterinary staff suspected one potential cause might have been an allergy to her sutures.

According to the zoo, they performed an additional examination on Sequoia’s sister, Adira. During that examination – the zoo saw, on x-ray, something that looks like wire or rope in Adira’s stomach. The zoo intends to investigate further before knowing whether it may harm Adira.

FOX21 reached out to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo about Adira, and they said, “if at any point Adira’s health declines, we will be ready to intervene immediately. At this point, she is doing well, so we’re evaluating our best management options for Adira. We’ll continue monitoring Adira’s health and will make continue to make the best possible decisions for our animals.”

The animal care team decided to perform spay surgeries on Sequoia and Adira because unspayed big cats are more likely to experience health problems later in life, such as cancer and hormonal imbalance that can cause infection. The mountain lions also needed to be spayed to avoid attracting wild mountain lions to their exhibit during times of estrus, which can be dangerous for animals and our guests.

“We’re confident our teams made the best decisions for Sequoia’s health care,” a spokesperson from CMZoo said. “Unfortunately, sometimes an animal reacts to a procedure and the recovery process in a way you couldn’t have anticipated.”

Sitka, the third mountain lion sibling, was neutered on the same day that the females were spayed. The CMZoo said Sitka appears to be recovering well.

“Sequoia’s passing has shocked us,” said Bob Chastain, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo president and CEO. “Even after 25 years in the profession, this doesn’t get easier. It is a reminder that no medical procedure is simple or without risk. As humans in this day of advanced medicine where miracles are performed every day, this is a sobering reminder.”

Keepers will continue monitoring Sitka and Adira through their post-surgery recoveries.

Sequoia made an enormous impact in her short life. She brought the CMZoo family and the Colorado Springs community a sense of hope and joy. We welcomed her to the Zoo, as she was taken in after being orphaned with her siblings in the wild. Our hearts melted when the kittens formed a relationship with aging mountain lion, “Grandma” Kaya, in her final months. And now, we mourn her together through this tragic chapter.

CMZoo Public Relations

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