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Scottsdale wildlife center’s beloved jaguar-leopard hybrid dies

(Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center)

PHOENIX — The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale has suffered a heartbreaking loss.

Leonardo, a 17-year-old jaguar-leopard hybrid, recently died.

For the last eight years, staff gave Leo a loving home after nurturing the big cat back to health.

Leo was rescued by the center in 2011 from a small zoo and pet store in southern Arizona where he had been mistreated for years.

“Leo came to SWCC as an elderly, abused, neglected and unhealthy animal. His claws and canine teeth had been removed, his feet were mutilated, and the cat had a collapsed lung and pneumonia,” the center said in a press release.

Thanks to SWCC, Leo was given a new lease on life back 2011, and had since received both emotional and physical support from the facility’s staff.

Linda Searles, the center’s founder and executive director, said Leo’s quality of life had been good until the last couple of weeks when his failing kidney’s and rapid weight loss had taken a fatal toll.

“Sadly, we had to make the painful decision to let Leonardo go. It was the right decision,” Searles said.

“Leo’s story is testimony to the wonderful and loving work our staff and volunteers do for the animals who are rehabilitated or come to live at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. We love our animals and offer the life and peace they deserve.”

Leo was among about 350 rescued and rehabilitated wild animals residing at the center.

Home to animals such as raccoons, mountain lions, bobcats, owls and bears, SWCC looks forward to releasing animals back into their natural environment whenever possible.

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