OKLAHOMA CITY – Employees and guests at the Oklahoma City Zoo are mourning the loss of one of the zoo’s most well-known creatures.
Officials say African lioness, 19-year-old Tia, was humanely euthanized at the Oklahoma City Zoo on Saturday, July 13 since she was suffering from a debilitating spinal condition and a loss of mobility.
In addition to typical age-related ailments like arthritis, Tia had reduced kidney function, vision impairment and degenerative spinal disease.
Over the previous week, caretakers noticed significant changes in her behavior. Officials say she was lethargic and showed decreased mobility. By Saturday, Tia was struggling to use her hind legs.
“Given her advanced age and the severity of her condition, the veterinary and caretaker teams made the difficult but necessary decision to humanely euthanize Tia,” a statement from the zoo read.
Tia was born at the Oklahoma City Zoo in 1999 and quickly became a favorite among zoo guests. In 2007, she gave birth to Malaika and Zari, who were moved to the El Paso Zoo.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums states that the median life expectancy for African lions in human care is 16.9 years. The life expectancy for the animals in the wild is between 10 and 14 years.