The Main Stream

Oct 7, 2010 2:47 PM

African Lion dies at Reid Park Zoo

TUCSON - Reid Park Zoo announced Thursday that "Kitabu" an elderly male African Lion, died overnight.

A necropsy is being performed today. Preliminary results will be available Friday and final examination reports are expected in several weeks.

According to zoo officials, there was a noticeable decline in Kitabu's health over the past two days. Animal care staff and the Zoo veterinarian were attempting non-evasive medical treatments before moving on to a detailed exam with anesthesia. He suffered a stroke in February and has been on medication and undergoing physical therapy since that time. Kitabu was born at Reid Park Zoo and was 18 when he died.

"Like all animals at Reid Park Zoo, Kitabu received quality whole-life care until the day he died. Although his death deeply saddens the staff, his death was not surprising. We are thankful the end was trauma free," states Jim Schnoremier, the Zoo General Curator.

"I am extremely proud of the staff members who helped him through a difficult medical issue earlier this year and provided him with several additional months of a high quality life." The average life expectancy of a lion is 15 years in the wild, while lions in zoos can expect to live into their late teens.

A young female, Kaya, will remain on exhibit daily. The Zoo will work with colleague institutions through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to make recommendations regarding the acquisition of additional lions, if appropriate. The Zoo will keep guests informed on its web site.

During this challenging time, keepers welcome guests' thoughts, memories, and photos of Kitabu on its Facebook page.

The Zoo is open 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily. Guests can call 791-4022 or visit www.tucsonzoo.org for additional information.

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