A leopard that was released by a Zanesville man in October was euthanized Sunday after it suffered an injury to its spinal cord at the zoo where it was quarantined and held for observation.


The male spotted leopard, one of six animals taken to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium after Terry Thompson released 56 animals from their cages before killing himself, was critically injured when it was struck in the neck by a dropping door as the cat was moved between enclosures.


The leopard suffered irreversible spinal cord injury and was unable to breathe on its own following the injury, said Erica Pitchford, in an Ohio Department of Agriculture news release.


The animal was in quarantine at the zooís Animal Health Center under orders from the agriculture department after it was recovered following Thompsonís death, said Pitchford, spokeswoman for the department.


A zookeeper was moving the cat between enclosures Sunday to conduct routine feeding and cleaning when the leopard unexpectedly darted back as the door was being lowered.


A zoo veterinarian who responded found the cat unresponsive and began chest compressions to get its heart beating. Upon examination, it was determined the animal was unable to breathe on its own. State Veterinarian Tony Forshey made the decision to euthanize the leopard, Pitchford said.


Radiographs from before and after the animalís death indicated the leopard had congenitally defective and malformed vertebrae in the neck, which weakened its cervical spine and could have compounded the severity of the injury, Pitchford said. The leopard had old injuries that had not healed properly, including broken bones in its back and tail.


The animalís body was taken to the Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory at the Ohio Department of Agriculture where a necropsy (animal autopsy) was performed Monday. Full results will not be available for four to six weeks, Pitchford said.


The zoo continues to care for one other spotted leopard, one black leopard, two monkeys, and one brown bear.


Police officers killed dozens of the animals after exotic animal farm owner Thompson opened the cages and let the animals out before committing suicide.