An Amur leopard, one of the world's most endangered species, was killed at an Erie, Pa., zoo by the male keepers were trying to mate with her.
Lina, the 7-year-old female, died Monday afternoon shortly after she was mauled by Edgar, ErieTVnews.com reported. Scott Mitchell, president of the Erie Zoo, said employees tried to treat Lina, but her injuries were too severe.
The Amur subspecies, the only leopard adapted to live in a cold climate, is now found only in a tiny area on the border of Russia and China near the North Korean line. There are estimated to be only 19 to 26 in the wild, with more than 170 in captivity.
"For us, it's huge emotionally, because we've never had this happen before, in the 30 plus years I've been here," Mitchell said. "For the species, it's even bigger because this may be one of the most endangered cats on earth, and to lose an important breeding female, like this, is just devastating."
The zoo has not decided whether they will attempt to mate Edgar, who is 5 years old, with another female.