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Great Bend Zoo loses African leopard Banera
new_deh_gb zoo leopard dies pic
Pictured is the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo’s African leopard Banera. She passed away Wednesday.

The Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo announced Wednesday after the passing of its beloved African leopard, Banera. Just two days short of her 19th birthday, Banera was humanely euthanized Wednesday after animal care staff and veterinarians had determined that her quality of life had deteriorated to a point that we could no longer keep her comfortable. 

For the past six years, Banera has been treated for severe arthritis. In recent years her arthritis has gotten so bad that sedation was required twice a year to trim her nails because she was unable to scratch them to wear them down. A necropsy has been performed and results are pending.

Banera moved to the zoo at just 10 days old in June of 2000. Dr. Mike Malone advised against acquisition at that time because the facility where she was born housed animals in horrible living conditions. “It is a true testament to the care given to our animals here, that animal can have such poor genetics, but still live so long.” 

Due to being hand raised, Banera has always enjoyed human comfort, making her a staff favorite, Zoo Supervisor/Curator Sara Hamlin said. “Whenever I had a bad day, I would get out of the office and pay a visit to Banera. She would always come down off of whatever bench she was napping on and greet me with excited meows. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the privilege to care for her.” 

African leopards live up to 12 years in the wild and up to 21 years in managed care. Most leopards have tawny-colored fur with black rosettes, like the zoo’s other leopard Toby, but some are completely black, like Banera, which is called melanistic coloration. 

But this doesn’t make them a black panther, there is no such animal, Hamlin said. “Panther” is just an old term that comes from the genus name, Panthera, and is sometimes used to describe leopards, jaguars and cougars.

Toby will remain on exhibit to be an ambassador for his species, Hamlin said. 

For more information, contact Hamlin at 620-793-4226.