Leonard, a 19-year-old African lion that lived at the Oakland Zoo, was euthanized on Sunday, the zoo announced through its Twitter account on Tuesday.
“It’s [with] great sorrow we share that Leonard, our senior African lion of 19 yrs, was humanely euthanized on Sunday,” reads a post that accompanies a photo of Leonard.
“Our hearts go out to our Animal Care staff who took tremendous care of this magnificent being, and to Leonard himself. Rest in peace, beautiful lion.”
Leonard came to the Oakland Zoo in 2000 with his sister, Sandy, when he was a 6-month-old cub. The two lion cubs were rescued from a private home by the Houston SPCA.
Sandy died in 2016 of cancer, but Leonard was soon joined by three male lions that were introduced to the zoo’s African lion habitat.
“While they never shared space for safety reasons, these 4 male lions had a lot to say to each other,” wrote Erica Calcagno in a statement. “Leonard often socialized with the young trio through a fence, either rubbing heads or vocally scolding misbehaving youngsters when needed. He never lost his dominating presence.”
Calcagno wrote in a statement that Leonard suffered from progressive arthritis and kidney disease. “On August 4, Leonard roared in concert with the other three lions for his last time,” she wrote. The East Bay Times reported that Leonard was transferred from the African lion habitat to the zoo’s veterinary hospital on Sunday.
“It’s a big loss for us,” Isabella Linares, spokeswoman for the zoo, told the East Bay Times. “We hope people can honor his life by supporting lion-conservation efforts to keep those animals in the wild, rather than trying to make them pets.”
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The zoo is hosting a lion appreciation day on Saturday, Aug. 10 in celebration of World Lion Day. At the event, visitors can hear a talk from the zoo’s lion keeper and get their face painted like a lion.
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