Coby the cougar, the Chattanooga Zoo's long-term resident, passed away suddenly yesterday evening from undetermined causes.
The zoo is currently awaiting necropsy results from the University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Veterinary Medicine. Preliminary findings will be forthcoming, officials said.
Coby was given to the Chattanooga Zoo in 2003 from the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, the result of a confiscation from an unlicensed pet owner. In 2005, the zoo built Coby and his rescue partner, Mia Mia, the Cougar Express Exhibit. Oftentimes, Coby would allow zoo visitors an up-close-and personal look by jumping in the glassed-in crate built into the actual caboose exhibit.
“This comes a huge shock to all of us here at the zoo," Dardenelle Long, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Zoo, said. "Although 10 years old, Coby passed his recent physical with flying colors and was not exhibiting symptoms of any kind of illness. Coby’s unique and playful personality will be greatly missed by all of us here at the zoo.”
Friends of the Zoo Board President Gary Chazen said, “Our hearts grieve for zoo staff and the numerous members of the community that loved him.”