COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (KCNC) — Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is mourning the unexpected loss of female mountain lion, Sequoia, who passed away Sunday night after post-surgical complications from being spayed. Sequoia’s sister, Adira, is experiencing complications after undergoing the same surgery earlier this month.
Veterinary staff suspect Sequoia may have died because of an unanticipated allergic reaction to her sutures.
“We first noticed swelling around Sequoia’s incision mid-last week, which isn’t unusual,” said Dr. Jon Romano, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo head veterinarian. “We treated her with anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics and continued daily checks while limiting her physical activity. I personally assessed Sequoia on Saturday night and was satisfied with her progress. Sunday morning, we discovered her surgical site had opened up overnight.”
Sequoia’s team rushed her to the veterinary clinic, where they addressed her complications. She survived the emergency surgery, but remained in critical condition and unfortunately passed a few hours later.
“Sequoia’s passing has shocked us,” said Bob Chastain, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo president and CEO. “Even after 25 years in the profession, this doesn’t get easier. It is a reminder that no medical procedure is simple or without risk. As humans in this day of advanced medicine where miracles are performed every day, this is a sobering reminder.”
Zoo veterinarians performed an additional exam on Sequoia’s sister, Adira. An x-ray appeared to show a wire or rope in Adira’s stomach. Officials said the object may pass naturally and added that Adira’s best hope is to avoid another surgery while she’s still recovering from the first one.
Sequoia and Adira were both spayed on Jan. 9. Although this is a common procedure, officials said any surgery requiring anesthesia is complex and the recovery can run into complications, especially with wild animals that can’t be examined as closely in the days following surgery. Although complications are rare, they are possible, and can be very serious.
The zoo made the decision to spay Sequoia and Adira because unspayed big cats are more likely to experience health problems later in life, such as cancer and hormonal imbalance that can cause infection. The mountain lions also needed to be spayed to avoid attracting wild mountain lions to their exhibit during times of estrus, which can be dangerous for animals and guests. A third mountain lion sibling named Sitka was neutered on the same day and appears to be recovering well.
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