Zoysa the last captive black leopard in the UK has died in Exmoor Zoo

Zoysa the black leopard Credit: Exmoor Zoo

Zoysa, the last black melanistic leopard in the UK, has died after a 12-week prolonged period of palliative care in Devon's Exmoor Zoo.

The 18-year-old big cat lived at the zoo for thirteen years, during which he became a well-known attraction, bringing in thousands of visitors each year.

Zoo director and trustee Danny Reynolds said: "Zoysa was a special one-of-a-kind leopard.

"Hand reared by Jimmy Club in 2004 he just absolutely loved people and was always waiting for visitors to entertain him as they walked around the zoo.

"His death will leave a big hole especially for those keepers and volunteers who have cared for him over the years."

John Hammond

The zoo have announced they will be entering a respectful period of mourning and have delayed the decision over whether they will continue with the species.

Zoysa's enclosure opened by Trevor Beer MBE, a former local renown naturalist, will be refurbished in the next few months.

A spokesperson for Exmoor Zoo added: "It is a sad day but also one to celebrate a life well lived and to remember all the joy and fascination he bought to our visitors."