The Chattanooga Zoo lost one its star attractions this week.
The male snow leopard cub named Everest was found dead Wednesday morning.
Zookeepers say Everest just passed a physical last week with flying colors...
And he showed no signs of illness.
The discovery of his body dealt a blow to everyone at the Zoo.
U-T's School of Veterinary Medicine performed a necropsy Wednesday afternoon.
Zoo Executive Director Darde Long explained, "Everest had a tumor in the wall of his heart. Something that according to U-T pathologists and doctors there, we wouldn't have been able to see because of the location. It wasn't near valves so it didn't really affect how his heart sounded when you listened with a stethoscope. It obviously affected how his heart worked."
She said the probability of survival for snow leopard cubs is low before the age of one. She added, "We'll be doing some research to find out, but we of course still have the female, the healthy female sister here and then we also have a half-sister who's currently at the Cincinnati Zoo so it seems like they did very well. Apparently it's a very rare thing in exotics but it happens quite often in humans."
Long says an area will be set up this weekend for kids or other visitors who want to leave a message for the snow leopard cubs.
And staff will be on hand to answer any questions.