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Oldest Lion in US Zoo Euthanized

Zenda was 25 years old
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2016 11:45 AM CST
America Loses Its Oldest Lion
Zenda, the oldest African lion in an American zoo, was euthanized Thursday.   (Philadelphia Zoo via AP)

America's elder stateslion has died. CBS News reports Zenda, a 25-year-old African lion at the Philadelphia Zoo, was euthanized Thursday. The zoo says Zenda was the oldest African lion in an American zoo "by several years," according to NBC Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Zenda was in impressive health considering her advanced age until recently, when her condition rapidly declined. Lions in zoos typically live about 17 years. As the oldest African lion in America, Zenda was the beneficiary of a number of perks, including her own personal heater and air conditioner. On the Monday before her death, she received her favorite meal: 10 pounds of raw steak wrapped around a bone.

Zenda was born in 1991 at South Africa's Johannesburg Zoo. She came to the Philadelphia Zoo with three other lions in 1993. Her keeper, Kay Buffamonte, says Kenda was a peacekeeper among the other lions, calming everyone down when there were fights over toys or space. “She was the one that held everyone together,” Buffamonte says. And after two decades at the Philadelphia Zoo, she had a relationship with many of its workers. "This remarkable cat will be missed by staff and guests alike, particularly by the keepers who catered to her changing needs as she grew old," NBC quotes the zoo's CEO as saying. There are six African lions remaining at the Philadelphia Zoo; the oldest is just 7 years old. (More lion stories.)

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