HOUSTON – The Houston Zoo euthanized a 20-year-old male jaguar Thursday morning.
The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after the quality of life of the jaguar, named Kan Balam, began to decline, according to a zoo statement.
Lisa Marie Avendano, vice president of animal operations at the Houston Zoo, said, “It is never an easy decision to euthanize an animal, but it is one we make with the animal’s well-being as the top priority. … Our animals receive the best care possible, and that includes end-of-life decisions.”
Kan Balam was born at a zoological facility in Mexico. Before coming to the Houston Zoo, he had an altercation with another jaguar and lost part of his front right foot, and for many years received laser acupuncture and annual chiropractic adjustments.
“Kan Balam was well known as one of the carnivore department’s most intelligent animals,” a statement from the zoo read. “The great-grandfather found joy in attempting to outsmart his keepers who dedicated their lives to caring for him.”
The Houston Zoo said jaguars live about 12 to 15 years in the wild.