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Kofi the lion at Tulsa Zoo begins hospice care for chronic end-stage renal disease

TULSA, Okla. – Officials at the Tulsa Zoo announced their male African lion, Kofi, has started hospice care for end-stage renal disease.

Kofi, almost 19 years old, has been part of the Tulsa Zoo family since 2004. He was born at the Oklahoma City Zoo on December 26, 1998. He was later moved to the Tulsa Zoo in 2004.

Veterinarians at the zoo first diagnosed Kofi in 2015 during routine preventative health exams.

Since his diagnosis, the zoo’s animal care has “taken measures to slow the progression of this degenerative and fatal disease.” They say kidney failure is a common cause of death in older felids, including domestic house cats.

To help Kofi’s kidneys function normally as long as possible, he receives a special diet that includes fat supplements to protect his kidney cells and others to prevent extreme weight loss typical in cats with the chronic disease.

“Other special portions of Kofi’s diet, such as his favorite whole prey items, are thought to help cats with decreased kidney function,” the zoo said in a post on their Facebook page.

Tulsa Zoo veterinarians and animal care staff are continuing to monitor Kofi for signs of diminished quality of life.

“For now, his appetite and attitude remain normal,” says Tulsa Zoo Director of Animal Health, Kay Backues, DVM, DACZM.

Zoo officials say once Kofi’s quality of life has diminished, “the decision to humanely euthanize him will be made by the animal care and veterinary staffs who have cared for him throughout this process.”

Zookeepers say Kofi is known to be “intense, but goofy and enamored with his own roar. In fact, he roars into the exhibit corners of the den for maximum echo. He spends cool mornings snuggled with Shatari, and despite his deep affection for the lioness, refuses tot share bones with her.”