New Jersey zoo's 17-year-old snow leopard dies

CAPE MAY, New Jersey -- The Cape May County Zoo is mourning the passing of a longtime snow leopard.

Officials say Himani, the 17-year-old female snow leopard that came to the South Jersey zoo in 2009, has died after a battle with cancer.

Himani proved to be an excellent mother, successfully raising seven healthy and strong cubs.

"Himani was an incredible mother, and an important member of our Zoo family, she will certainly be missed by the staff and visitors. We feel fortunate that she was here with us during the past 12 years. Her contributions to the conservation of her species and to the future of the Cape May County Zoo are immeasurable," said Dr. Alex Ernst, Associate Veterinarian at the Zoo.

Officials say it was the birth of those cubs that helped put the zoo in the national spotlight.

"She was a superstar and a huge draw for visitors who made a visit to the Snow Leopard habitat one of their top attractions," said County Commissioner E. Marie Hayes, liaison to the Cape May County Parks and Zoo.

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