Beloved snow leopard at Akron Zoo passes away


The Akron Zoo is heartbroken to share the passing of their female snow leopard, Shanti. Shanti’s health began to decline in the last few days and her care team made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Shanti on Dec. 14.

In July 2021, a veterinary exam confirmed the progression of advanced chronic kidney and heart diseases. Since then, her care was shifted to palliative care with the focus on providing her with the best quality of life and comfort as possible as she neared the end of her life. 

Shanti was a fan favorite among zoo guests. She was a very playful snow leopard throughout her life and she enjoyed interacting with zoo visitors. Shanti won the title of “Top Animal” in the past, and the public has dubbed her “the mother of the Akron Zoo.” Over her years, she has welcomed eight snow leopard cubs – Raj and Sabu in 2012, Malaya and Makalu in 2014, Altai, Layan and Asha in 2016 and Baya in 2019. 

Shanti was born on June 16, 2008 at the Binder Park Zoo in Michigan. She moved to the Akron Zoo on June 25, 2009. The median life expectancy for snow leopards is 15.1 years old. 

“Shanti was an amazing cat to work with,” said lead carnivore keeper, Mark Schneider. “She was the best mother and she really loved interacting with us keepers. It was an honor to be part of her journey.” 

“Shanti was the embodiment of the Akron Zoo,” said Doug Piekarz, president & CEO. “Our guests were able to connect with her through her story, and her legacy will live on through her grown cubs. Thank you to our animal care and veterinary teams, who have provided Shanti with exceptional care throughout the years, especially at the end of her life. Shanti will be missed by the entire Akron Zoo family, including our visitors.”    

The Akron Zoo’s male snow leopard, Tai Lung, remains in the snow leopard habitat daily. The zoo is working with the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) on a recommendation for a female snow leopard to pair with Tai Lung.