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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo says goodbye to 13-year-old female lion

Posted at 9:51 PM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 23:51:47-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is mourning the loss of Zwena, a 13-year-old female African lion.

Zwena was born at the zoo.

The zoo said the Zwena's care team made the humane decision to euthanize her Monday due to progressive neurological issues and her declining health and quality of life.

“She was always the biggest personality out of the girls,” said Diana Miller, African Rift Valley keeper and Zwena’s primary trainer for nearly 9 years. “She was very loud. When she would see us coming she would either make a happy grumble or snarl at you. She was so sassy and fierce – and she loved to participate in her voluntary training. She was always enthusiastic with training and demonstrating her awesome lion behaviors during keeper talks. She would jump up on the cape buffalo statue with such vigor and a loud groan. She was impressive. She made a real impact with our guests.”

According to the zoo, the median life expectancy for African lions is 16.9 years, but as with humans and other species, the life span can be shorter due to various medical challenges, like the ones Zwena was facing.