OKLAHOMA CITY – An African lioness who stunned crowds at the Oklahoma City Zoo after she grew a small mane has died.
In February, zoo officials said they were looking into why Bridget, the zoo’s 18-year-old African lioness, had suddenly spouted a mini-mane.
Male lions usually begin growing a mane when they are about 1-year-old, which is when they begin producing more testosterone.
However, it is extremely rare for a female lion to grow a mane.
Last month, Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino, the director of veterinary services at the zoo, announced that the medical mystery was solved.
Veterinarians found that Bridget has elevated levels of two different hormones- cortisol and androstenedione. Androstenedione is actually a precursor to testosterone, which is the cause for mane growth in male lions.
D’Agostino said that Bridget may have a small benign tumor in her adrenal gland, which was leading to the increased hormones. However, they didn’t think her condition would affect her quality of life.
Sadly, zoo officials announced that Bridget died on Wednesday evening.
The Oklahoma City Zoo said that caretakers noticed that Bridget seemed lethargic and showed no interest in eating or training on Tuesday morning. The next day, the veterinary team decided to perform an emergency examination when it seemed that Bridget was in pain.
During the exam, the team discovered an excess amount of fluid buildup around Bridget's heart, which is indicative of heart failure or infection.
Given her advanced age and the severity of her condition, the vet and caretaker teams decided to humanely euthanize her. A necropsy will be conducted to determine her exact cause of death.