Niabi Zoo says goodbye to Savanna, the African lion

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COAL VALLEY, Ill. (KWQC) — The Niabi Zoo said its 19-year-old African lioness Savanna was euthanized Thursday.

The zoo humanely euthanized the lion due to complications caused by breast cancer and progressive kidney failure, Niabi Zoo said in a media release.

Savanna was a recognized favorite at Niabi Zoo for a generation of visitors and was the last remaining African lion at the zoo, Niabi Zoo said. Because of her mane, visitors often mistake her for a young man.

“This is never an easy decision, the zoo’s nursing staff, veterinary team and managers ultimately had to consider their welfare and the best possible quality of life,” said director Lee Jackson. “That she was able to live to such an advanced age is a testament to the care that is given to Savanna and all of the animals at Niabi Zoo and the tireless dedication of our zookeepers and veterinary staff.”

Savanna was born on May 3, 2002, and was introduced to Niabi when she was just 5 days old, Niabi Zoo said. She was hand raised by her caretaker.

The zoo said as animal care science and veterinary techniques have improved, many animals in zoos live far beyond what can be expected of their wild counterparts.

Older animals in zoos face the same challenges as older people; Dental, eye and joint problems, digestive problems and weakened immune function, the zoo said. At Niabi Zoo, zookeepers and veterinarians work closely together to ensure that all of our animals have the best possible quality of life at every stage of life.

The zoo said all animals, but especially the older ones, are monitored daily for subtle signs, changes in mobility, body condition, appetite, behavior and interactions with other animals, with any changes being closely noted and recorded.

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