Houston Zoo announces passing of 18-year-old lion

HOUSTON (KHOU) - The Houston Zoo has announced the passing of Jonathan, the zoo’s 18-year-old male lion.

He died early Wednesday after the zoo says its veterinarians discovered he had a serious blood clotting issue and low white blood cell count. According to the zoo, the findings "are not uncommon in geriatric patients, who often develop the more complex medical conditions."

After the zoo discovered he wasn't feeling well, they gave him a complete examination. The lion spent the night in the zoo's animal hospital, but despite the veterinary team’s efforts he died overnight.

"Jonathan spent the majority of his life at the Houston Zoo after being rescued from a private owner when he was just a few years old. Jonathan’s regal mane was identifiable to all who visited him at the Houston Zoo, and since his arrival in 2006, has been a guest and keeper favorite. Guests could usually find the elderly lion lounging in the sun, surrounded by his pride of three females," the zoo stated in a press release.

“Jonathan’s impact on our keepers and guests will not be forgotten,” said Dr. Adrian Fowler, Vice President of Animal Operations for the Houston Zoo. “Our team of keepers who have spent more than a decade caring and bonding with this incredible animal are grieving this loss, and we support them through this sad time.”

The Houston Zoo says Jonathan, and his surviving pride, "are ambassadors for their wild counterparts in Africa and serve to educate guests about the work being done to help save this vulnerable species."


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