The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society family is mourning the loss of a beloved 14-year-old female Florida panther, Mirasol. On July 20, 2015, veterinary staff diagnosed her with paralyzed back legs, which may have indicated kidney failure. The panther was humanely euthanized on July 23, 2015, after veterinary staff determined she was experiencing seizures and was suffering severe pain with no hope of recovery.
“We are deeply saddened to lose Mirasol,” said Jan Steele, general curator for the Zoo. “She was popular among guests and zookeepers because of her affectionate nature. Although we are glad she is no longer suffering, she will be sorely missed.”
“Because Mirasol came to us at an advanced age, we considered this to be a loving hospice home for her,” Steele continued. “We saw a dramatic improvement in her energy over her first few months with us, but we were aware that she had deeper health issues.”
Initial necropsy results suggest that Mirasol had severe degenerative osteoarthiris of the joints (spondylosis, a painful arthritic sway back condition).
“Despite her spinal problems, Mirasol always seemed to be happy,” she said. “We gave her regular physical therapy, top-notch veterinary care and excellent nutrition, which we believe led to the noticeable improvement in her movements and flexibility. She loved to play with her boomer balls, and she enjoyed special enrichments and treats during our daily Panther Talks.”
Mirasol swiftly rose to fame as a Zoo icon after she arrived at the Zoo on October 11, 2013. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officer helped to re-home the panther at the Zoo after her original home, the South Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (SFWRC), closed.
As an ambassador for her species at the Zoo, Mirasol served as a symbol of the vanishing South Florida ecosystem. Zoo board member Candace Hamm and her husband William Hamm named Mirasol, which means “sunflower.” The Hamms are long-standing supporters of the Zoo’s “Big Cat Program.”
“Keepers will be spending a lot of time with Micco, our young male panther,” Steele said. “We plan to give him extra attention, and we hope this will also help to heal the zookeepers, who all loved Mirasol.”
Necropsy (animal autopsy) results are still pending for Mirasol. The results may not be available for several weeks.
The Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches (d.b.a. the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society) exists to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world. The Zoo is home to more than 500 animals on twenty-three shaded tropical acres, including endangered Malayan tigers, Mexican spider monkeys, jaguars and more. The Zoo is committed to sustainability on-site and in the community as a conservation leader for Palm Beach County.
The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is located at 1301 Summit Boulevard in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. For more information, visit www.palmbeachzoo.org.
The Palm Beach Zoo Mourns the Loss of a Florida Panther. Jan Steele, general curator for the Zoo, communicated the loss of the Florida Panther on July 20