By CBS3 Staff

CAPE MAY COUNTY, N.J. (CBS/AP) — A snow leopard that gained national attention for giving birth to seven cubs has died at 17 years old, a New Jersey zoo said Sunday. Himani, who reared four litters of cubs at a time when snow leopard breeding success was at a low point, was “peacefully euthanized following a battle with cancer” on Friday, according to a press release from Cape May County.

“Himani was an incredible mother, and an important member of our Zoo family, she will certainly be missed by the staff and visitors. We feel fortunate that she was here with us during the past 12 years,” Dr. Alex Ernst, associate veterinarian at the zoo said. “Her contributions to the conservation of her species and to the future of the Cape May County Zoo are immeasurable.”

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Himani was born in June 2003 and came to the Cape May County Zoo in 2009 from the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee.

Himani’s cubs were moved to zoos across the country, carrying “her legacy and genetics to raise cubs of their own,” according to the zoo.

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“On behalf of myself and my colleagues on the County Board of Commissioners, we are truly saddened by the passing of Himani. She was a superstar and a huge draw for visitors who made a visit to the Snow Leopard habitat one of their top attractions,” County Commissioner E. Marie Hayes, liaison to the Cape May County Parks and Zoo, said. “I want to thank the Zoo Veterinarians and Zoo Staff for their care and dedication as they cared for Himani during her battle with cancer. She will be missed.”

The Cape May County Zoo is open from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. daily.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)