ASHEBORO, N.C. -- A cougar at the North Carolina Zoo has died.
Zoo officials said Thursday they had to euthanize 17-year-old Oliver because of a long period of declining health.
Oliver had several months of age-related treatment.
Dr. Ryan DeVoe, a zoo veterinarian, said Oliver lived a "rich, full life" at the zoo since 1997. Cougars are considered to have reached old age when they turn 12.
"It is with great sadness that we report to you the loss of our beloved cougar Oliver," General Curator Ken Reininger wrote in an email to zoo staff. "Ollie had been in failing health for several months and the day had finally come to do what was best for him to prevent suffering.
Oliver was rescued when he was four months old from an illegal owner by the Michigan Anticurelty Association.
Zoo officials said they did receive some positive news this week. Three cougar cubs will soon be living at the North Carolina Zoo. They say a hunter killed their mother and the cubs have been staying at the Oregon Zoo. The cubs are expected to arrive in February.
The zoo faced several losses in 2013. Two polar bears, a baby gorilla and an adult gorilla died.