Zoo Boise Caring For Aging Snow Leopard Diagnosed With Cancer

Jan 24, 2024

tiger licking cage

Zoo Boise, a division of Boise Parks and Recreation, is dedicated to the care of every animal that calls the zoo home. Those efforts become even more important when one of our beloved family members is diagnosed with cancer.

The zoo’s 14-year-old female snow leopard named Kabita (pronounced kah-bee-tuh), has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma – an oral cancer. As soon as zookeepers noticed something was off, Kabita was given a full examination where a lesion was discovered. Treatment began immediately to make Kabita comfortable, as further testing showed the cancer has spread to her surrounding bones and unfortunately cannot be cured.

In the wild, snow leopards generally have a lifespan of anywhere from 10 to 13 years. Despite her advanced age, zookeepers are committed to giving Kabita the best treatment options available to help her live out her days in comfort. Kabita was born at the Sunset Zoo in Kansas and has been a member of the Zoo Boise family since 2011.

“This update is a difficult one for our entire Zoo Boise team,” said Zoo Boise Director Gene Peacock. “However, we remain hopeful for Kabita’s future. She is doing well and I’m proud of how our staff is coming together to create a path forward for her.”

Zoo Boise’s veterinarian staff, animal care managers, administrative team, and an outside oncologist are determining what ongoing treatment plan is best. The good news is there are treatments that may extend and provide a better quality of life for Kabita, which is comforting to staff. Kabita is receiving several rounds of electrochemotherapy to start, with the goal of treating and reducing the size of the tumor in her mouth.

“Animal care is and always will be our top priority,” added Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway. “We will continue to prioritize the health of every animal, along with the wellbeing of the team members who care for them, especially when an animal receives a difficult diagnosis.”

The Zoo Boise team would like to thank the community, our guests, and committed animal care partners for their support and well wishes during this difficult time. The zoo will be posting regular updates about Kabita on its social media platforms and on the Zoo Boise website. Kabita will remain on exhibit for the foreseeable future and community members are welcome to stop by Zoo Boise and see her.

Zoo Boise has turned the act of visiting the zoo into a conservation action. Since 2007, visits to Zoo Boise have generated more than $4 million towards the conservation of animals in the wild, redefining why we have a zoo. Zoo Boise is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a national organization that supports excellence in animal care, conservation, education, and science.


APRIL 2024 UPDATE: We have some good news and a treatment update for Kabita. While her diagnosis is incurable, electrochemotherapy and follow up exams show the tumor is no longer visible to the naked eye. However, prior to the diagnosis, the cancer had spread to the bone in the upper jaw. After treatment sessions, Kabita hasn’t shown any noticeable side effects and resumed eating normally, which is a great sign. Zoo Boise will continue to provide updates when possible. Thank you for the cards and well wishes as we continue to provide the best care possible for Kabita and all of the animals who call the zoo home.