HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - An icon of the Hattiesburg Zoo, Samspon the jaguar died at the age of 19 on Wednesday.
Sampson arrived at the zoo in 2001, and those who cared for him say the animal enjoyed regular training activities with keepers, including paw print paintings, which were sometimes sold to visitors.
"He was one of the icons of the Zoo that the public loved and admired. He will be sorely missed," said Senior Zookeeper Katie Barry.
According to officials, Sampson was humanely euthanized 'following a decline in his quality of life due to old age.'
"We take comfort in knowing that Sampson had a healthy, long and full life at the Zoo," said Rick Taylor, Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Convention and Tourism Commissions. "We are deeply saddened by his passing."
The zoo says that while the beloved animal is irreplaceable, they plan to continue showcasing jaguars.