Zoo Mourns Loss of Cougar

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Zoo Mourns Loss of Cougar

Due to declining health issues, Nashville Zoo has euthanized Jackson, an 18-year old cougar. Jackson passed away on May 7.

“This is a very sad day for all of us at Nashville Zoo,” said Dr. Heather Robertson, director of veterinary services at Nashville Zoo. “Jackson had been battling renal (kidney) disease for the last few years. He had done well with medical support until recently when his condition began to rapidly decline. Due to this decline, the veterinary and keeper staff believed humane euthanasia was the best option.” 

Jackson came to Nashville Zoo when he was just a few weeks old and was one of the original animals when the Zoo opened at Grassmere in 1997. Several years ago, he developed arthritis issues and kidney disease, both common in older cats. At that time, the Zoo moved him to an off-exhibit home for the remainder of his life. The median life expectancy for a cougar is 14 years old. Jackson would have turned 19 on May 30. 

“Jackson was always happy to see his keepers, and he was quick with a rub on the fence or a friendly chirp (his vocalization),” said Karen Rice, carnivore supervisor. “It is a testament to the great care that he received from his keepers and the veterinary staff that he enjoyed such a long and happy life. He will be greatly missed by so many.”

Cougars, also known as pumas or mountain lions, are solitary animals that are mostly active at night. At one point, cougars had the largest range of any mammal in North and South America, but with an increase in human population, their range has shrunk to the mostly mountainous regions of the western United States. The Zoo has two cougars on exhibit on Bamboo Trail.