NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk made a sad announcement Monday. Puba, a small-clawed otter, died this past Friday at 16 years old, which is on the older end for this species.

The veterinary team performed an MRI on Puba, which showed he had intervertebral disc disease in his neck, which puts pressure on the spinal cord. This helped explain why he had been displaying symptoms of a neurological condition. The team also discovered that Puba was in terminal kidney failure, which is common in otters. They made the difficult decision that humane euthanasia was warranted in Puba’s case.

A post on the Virginia Zoo’s social media said, “Puba was a beloved member of the Virginia Zoo family with a whole lot of personality and joy. He will be missed greatly by staff, volunteers, and guests alike.”

Puba and his mate, Alana, arrived at the zoo in early 2021 as part of the “Special Survival Plan”, which helps manage a species’ population in zoos by pairing them for companionship or breeding. Alana still resides in the Asia Trail of the Tiger exhibit, with the zoo’s white-cheeked gibbons, Dexter and Henley.

The zoo said they do not know yet if they will seek a new mate for Alana, who is 5 years old.