Exmoor Zoo is mourning the loss of its black leopard Ebony after a sudden illness.

Black leopard Ebony was a huge favourite at Exmoor Zoo and liked to scare visitors. Picture: Exmoor ZooBlack leopard Ebony was a huge favourite at Exmoor Zoo and liked to scare visitors. Picture: Exmoor Zoo

The 16-year-old died early on Wednesday, October 22 after 12 years at the zoo and one of its main attractions, dubbed the ‘Exmoor Beast’.

Trustee Lynn Reynolds said it had been a great shock. She said: “She will be hugely missed by all keepers and visitors and obviously Zoysa, her companion.

“She was a huge ambassador for the zoo and loved to play hide and seek with visitors, hiding in her den but jumping up and scaring them while hiding below the window.

“She was in very special lady, RIP Ebs and safe journey over the rainbow bridge.”

Lynn said Ebony had a number of medical problems, which on their own could likely have been dealt with, but all together was insurmountable.

Vets attended her on Wednesday, but she did not come around from the anaesthetic.

Male black leopard Zoysa had been a companion to Ebony for 10 years.