Cheetah at National Zoo Dies

The National Zoo's 12-year-old cheetah named Shombay has died after a growth was found in his abdomen. 

Shombay died July 18 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., the zoo said Tuesday in a news release. 

The health of the animal, who was the last living cheetah produced by artificial insemination, declined over the past few months. 

In February, an x-ray discovered a growth in Shombay's abdomen and veterinarians decided not to perform surgery. Veterinarians were closely monitoring the growth.

A final pathology report will be issued with more information about Shombay's cause of death.

The median life expectancy for a cheetah in captivity is 8 to 12 years old, while a cheetah in the wild is expected to live only six to eight years.

Shombay was born at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio on June 8, 2003 and arrived at SCBI in 2011. 

While Shombay never produced offspring, "he served as an ambassador for his species, illustrating the biology and behavior of cheetahs to SCBI scientists and researchers," the zoo said. 

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