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Female Cheetah Kira Euthanized

Cheetah, Kira
Kira (laying down) shown in the cheetah habitat with Imara.

Posted October 2020

The Zoo is sad to announce one of its female cheetahs, Kira, was humanely euthanized Oct. 17. At 16+ years old, she was experiencing a decline in health, consistent with older cheetahs.  The median life expectancy for female cheetahs in human care is 11.7 years.

Recently Kira had some mobility issues which made it challenging for her to get up and walk around her habitat.  Zookeepers were closely monitoring her, and as her quality of life deteriorated, the decision was made for humane euthanasia.  

Kira arrived at the Milwaukee County Zoo in 2014 from Wildlife Safari in Oregon, along with female cheetah, Imara.  Kira and Imara were not related, but Imara is the sister of MCZ’s former cheetahs, Damara and Nama.

Cheetah, Kira
Kira enjoys a nap while Imara walks the outdoor habitat.

Kira was the more cautious of the two cheetahs, requiring zookeepers to make more of a commitment to earning her trust, while Imara seemed to immediately trust keepers. Kira’s fur appeared to be the lighter of the two, as her spots were further apart.  She also had a white-tipped tail that distinguished her from Imara.

Kira was the oldest female cheetah in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) population – currently only two other male cheetahs are 16 years old.

After a couple of days of Imara realizing she was alone, she seems to be doing alright.  Imara will turn 16 years old in November, so keepers continue to keep a watchful eye on her.