In Memoriam: Rosa, the Mountain Lion

We are heartbroken to share the recent loss of Rosa, our female mountain lion. Last week, the difficult, but compassionate decision was made for euthanasia due to her declining health.

At 15.5 years old, Rosa was considered a geriatric cat. She suffered from arthritis and was prescribed medications to alleviate the symptoms with modifications to the exhibit to give her easier mobility throughout her habitat. During the second week of December, it was first noticed that Rosa's health was starting to seriously decline. Our staff did an excellent job of monitoring her condition and sharing her symptoms with our veterinary staff. Her medications were adjusted and she was seen regularly by our veterinary team.

Rosa's estimated birth date was May of 2006. She arrived at ZooAmerica in May of 2008 from the EFBC's Feline Conservation Center in Rosamond, California. She had been found orphaned as a young cat after a California wildfire and could not be released back into the wild. She originally lived with our older male, Stanley, in our mountain lion habitat until his death in July of 2014. In 2015, Rainier was introduced to Rosa when he was ten months old. His arrival reinvigorated her youthful side! Rosa would often play with Rainier like a kitten or an older sibling. They were buddies, but Rosa definitely ruled the roost when she felt it was necessary.

As an ambassador of her species, our guests learned about the natural history of mountain lions. Countless pictures were taken of Rosa during our Behind-the-Scenes Tours, as well as by our regular guests. Her image will live on in many family photo albums.

Rosa also taught the staff. She made it clear that you can teach an old cat new "tricks", including her work with the zoo team in creating new ways to engage in physical therapy. If you ever had the opportunity to watch a training session, you were able to observe Rosa's spunkiness and willingness to train. She always worked very well with our team and was known for her vocalizations that sometimes sounded like a hiss and were just part of her endearing personality.

In the words of many staff members, Rosa was elegant, sassy, beautiful, sometimes grumpy, and so very smart. She was a rock star and a queen. Rosa left footprints on our hearts - we will miss her tremendously.