Banham Zoo mourns death of beloved leopard Sariska

A post mortem showed that Sariska had been living with a serious heart condition. Credit: Liam Austin

Keepers and staff at Banham Zoo in Norfolk say they're devastated by the death of their female Sri Lankan leopard Sariska.

She passed away on September 16th after falling ill over the last few weeks.

Sariska and her cub Sariask Credit: Liam Austin

A post mortem showed that Sariska had been living with a serious heart condition. Further investigations are being carried out to find out the cause.

Sariska gave birth to two cubs in June which were fathered by the zoo’s male leopard, Mias. One of the cubs sadly died in August.

This is so upsetting for the keepers and staff who have cared for Sariska since she arrived at Banham Zoo in 2015. She will be greatly missed by the team here at Banham Zoo and by our visitors. Our focus will be on supporting the development of the leopard cub, to ensure he adapts as well as possible to the loss. We have named him Sariask, an anagram of his mother’s name in Sariska’s memory.

Gary Batters, Joint Managing Director, Zoological Society of East Anglia

The Zoological Society of East Anglia, the charity which runs Banham Zoo in Norfolk and Africa Alive in Suffolk, is a partner in the European Breeding Programme for the Sri Lankan leopard, which is one of nine subspecies of leopard.

As their name suggests, Sri Lankan leopards are native to Sri Lanka and are found in a range of habitats from open savannah to rainforests.


Mature Sri Lankan leopards left in the wild

They are classed as a Vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with less than 800 mature individuals left in the wild.

Staff at the Africa Alive attraction in Suffolk shared their condolences on twitter.

Banham Zoo reopened in July with new safety measures after struggling due to coronavirus