Two beloved lions die of old age at California zoos this week
One was confident but particular, the other refined and charismatic. The two kings of the jungle were beloved fixtures at separate California zoos for more than a decade and died within days of each other this week.
M’bari, 15, was euthanized Wednesday after suffering from age-related ailments, the San Diego Zoo said in a statement.
Jahari, 16, died late Monday of old age, the San Francico Chronicle reported.
M’bari had been under veterinary care for some time, zookeepers in San Diego said.
“In recent days, his condition had steadily worsened, despite attempts by animal care staff to modify his habitat to make him more comfortable,” the zoo said on Facebook.
The lion was well-known in San Diego County and often was seen lounging with Etosha, his mate, in their enclosure. According to a recent profile of the zoo’s wild cats, the two were part of the attraction’s first pride, brought to the zoo in 2009.
In the profile, senior keeper Kimberly Hyde said M’bari was a confident cat and particular about his routine.
“They each have a distinct personality — and Mbari’s is as big as his gorgeous mane,” the profile read.
He was cautious of anything new, Hyde said, noting that when she was a new keeper, he would ignore her and look directly to the other keeper for direction.
Zoo officials said M’bari’s roars were heard like clockwork, in the early mornings and late afternoons.
At the San Francisco Zoo, Jahari’s mane and his roars were just as big. Officials there remembered Jahari for his “refined temperament.”
“We watched this charismatic lion grow, mature and have a family of his own with his mate, Sukari, and becoming an admirable father to his offspring, Jasiri,” zookeepers said.
Jahari was born in 2003 and raised by zoo staff after his mother died shortly after giving birth.
African lions usually live about 14 years in the wild. In zoos, they can live into their late teens or early 20s. The San Diego Zoo’s oldest lion lived to be 30.
The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.
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