Leo the Lion passes away

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A sad week for the Lake Superior Zoo, mourning the loss of their African lion, Leo. He was 14.5 years old, and passed away in his sleep with keepers by his side.

Assistant Director of Animal Care, Lizzy Larson said, "I have been Leo’s keeper for 13 years, which was most of his life and most of my zookeeping career. He was a gentle giant and the dominant lion in his sibling group pride. He loved to play with toys and his sisters. My life and the Lake Superior Zoo will forever be changed by Leo."

A week and a half ago keepers noticed that Leo’s behavior was off. He was less active, and wasn’t playing with his sisters like usual. On Tuesday his health seemed to dramatically decline, and vet staff made the decision to perform a full exam. Lab results found Leo suffered from an autoimmune disease.

Leo is survived by his two sisters, Lily and Malkia. All three lions had full exams and dental cleanings last summer and all were in great health considering their progressing age.

The Zoo says in the wild, lions generally do not live longer than 10 years. While in human care, lions can live into their upper teens.

The public is invited to visit the Zoo this weekend to pay their respects to Leo, and people are welcome to visit Lily and Malkia as well. There will be a designated spot for a memorial, as well as a donation box at the lion’s habitat. All monetary gifts received will be used to provide Lily and Malkia with some extra enrichment and love, as they will feel the loss of their big brother most of all.