Posted Oct 7, 2010, 11:45 am
Dylan Smith TucsonSentinel.com
Kitabu, an 18-year-old male African lion at the Reid Park Zoo, died overnight of unknown causes.
The lion had a stroke in February and "there was a noticeable decline in Kitabu's health over the past two days," said Vivian VanPeenen, curator of education for the Tucson zoo, in a news release.
Kitabu was born at the zoo.
The average life expectancy of a wild lion is 15 years, while lions in zoos can live to their late teens, VanPeenen said.
"Although his death deeply saddens the staff, his death was not surprising. We are thankful the end was trauma free,” aid Jim Schnoremier, the zoo's general curator.
Kitabu will be examined to determine the cause of death, VanPeenen said.
Kitabu had been on medication and was receiving physical therapy, she said.
A young female lion, Kaya, will remain on exhibit. The zoo is open 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily.
The zoo will offer updates on Kitabu's postmortem examination and any decision to acquire another lion on its website, VanPeenen said.