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Nicolai, An Elderly Amur Leopard, Dies At The Jacksonville Zoo

Photo of Nicolai
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Caregivers at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Nicolai, an elderly Amur leopard in poor health.Nicolai, who would have turned 19 this month, had been fighting renal failure and other age-related complications.

The average life expectancy for the species is 10 to 15 years, according to the zoo, which announced Nicolai's passing on Facebook Sunday.

Nicolai had lived at Jacksonville's zoo since 2013, when he was transferred from the El Paso Zoo.

Amur leopards are the world's rarest cat, according to the zoo, which said fewer than 100 of the critically endangered species remain among the border of Russia and China.

Nikolai fathered seven cubs with his partner, Makarii. 

His keepers described Nikolai has a "stoic yet highly charismatic and sensitive feline," adding he loved basking in the sun, rubbing on spices, and spending time on his tree and wood spools.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.