The staff at the El Paso Zoo are mourning the unexpected loss of 17-year-old Arabian sand cat, Naiade.

She passed on December 14 and had lived at the El Paso Zoo since May 2008.

Naiade was the oldest sand cat in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facilities in the United States.

Naiade had a history of several medical conditions and bouts with illness, but and at the time of her death, she was not symptomatic.

Keepers say that Naiade was very sweet and had a very serene demeanor. She was very smart and was great when working with trainers during positive reinforcement training sessions. She was also very inquisitive to new things and keepers were always greeted by her at her door waiting for her morning meal.

Final necropsy reports may help to determine her cause of death.

Arabian sand cats are listed as “near threatened” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.