Reid Park Zoo Says Goodbye to Simone, the Oldest Jaguar in an AZA Zoo

Reid Park Zoo is saddened to announce the death of Simone, the Zoo’s 23-year-old jaguar. Simone was the oldest jaguar at an AZA-accredited zoo, and lived nearly all of her long life at Reid Park Zoo. She arrived in Tucson from another zoo when she was just 7 months old.

“Simone was a striking cat with a muscular build, known for her climbing and swimming abilities,” Director of Zoological Operations Dr. Sue Tygielski said. “Unlike most jaguars, Simone was a melanistic cat: her coat was dark, instead of the more common yellowish-brown with black rosettes. In the bright sunlight, guests could see the black rosettes typical of jaguars showing through Simone’s nearly black-brown coat, which made her particularly beautiful. She was always a guest and staff favorite and many came to celebrate her 23rd birthday in March of this year.”

Reid Park Zoo’s highly-dedicated animal care staff spent lots of time carefully observing Simone, monitoring her diet, and caring for age-related issues. Many species tend to live longer in Zoos because of the nutrition, health care, and daily attention animal care professionals provide. Reid Park Zoo is home to a number of older animals, reflecting the Zoo’s ongoing commitment to whole-life care of its residents.

Median life expectancy for jaguars is 18 years old. According to International Union for Conservation of Nature, jaguars are near threatened in the wild. Populations are rapidly declining in southern regions of the United States, Mexico, and South America.

Simone was euthanized Friday, July 5 due to age-related health issues. Kidney disease and pancreas issues are common in elderly cats of all sizes, wild and domestic alike. Simone’s sister Nikita passed away in 2017, also due to age-related health concerns.

The animal care and veterinary staff had been managing Simone’s health closely and determined that humane euthanasia was the best course of action as her health declined. Our thoughts are with all of the staff who cared for her, who are sure to feel the loss of Simone deeply.