By Al Novack

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — The Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown is mourning the loss one of its longtime favorite animals, a 19-year-old jaguar named Anasazi.

Officials of the zoo say Anasazi died following a sudden decline in health.  In fact, they say, veterinarians had been prepared to euthanize the jaguar when he died on his own.

A preliminary examination has  revealed the likely cause of death were cancer and complications from kidney failure.

Zoo staff members and veterinarians had been treating the cat  for nearly a year.

Anasazi  was born at a Maryland wildlife preserve  in 1973, and arrived at Elmwood Park Zoo in 1994, where he soon became a star attraction among the many schoolchildren who visited the Montgomery County-based zoo.

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