EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Mesker Park Zoo officials have announced their 13-year-old female jaguar, Beliza, has terminal cancer.
She has been at the zoo since 2007.
Zoo officials say Beliza was briefly introduced to Cuxtal, the 15-year-old male jaguar resident at the zoo, with hopes of her getting pregnant.
When she failed to conceive this time, a veterinary exam was scheduled, and a large tumor was found in her uterus.
While performing the surgery to spay Beliza in order to remove this growth, zoo officials say veterinary specialists found other small tumors in her abdominal organs.
Beliza has been diagnosed with carcinomatosis, which means she has cancer throughout her abdomen.
“If she makes it a year into this diagnosis, I would be surprised, and we’ve had a lot of talks about that with the staff, but we’re hopeful that we can have her around as long as possible," said Dr. Carrie Ullmer.
They say her remaining days will be filled with treats, toys, and loving care.
“When you see an animal five times a week, eight hours a day, you see this cat and you watch them grow and watch them learn new things, it’s sad to think about not being able to do that in the future," said Zookeeper Jackie Graybeal.
Beliza will remain in view of the public, so the Zoo encourages guests to come visit and to send positive thoughts her way.