NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia zoo is mourning the death of its beloved matriarch lioness, Zola, who died after recent problems with her liver.
Zoo officials believe the nearly 16-year-old lioness had cancer of the liver, based on an initial necropsy, but the results are still pending. The zoo says Zola was humanely euthanized after both her liver and kidneys failed and her condition never rebounded.
The zoo says Zola started receiving treatment just over three weeks ago after her appetite decreased, but the disease progressed “despite intensive efforts from Animal Care and Veterinary staff,” including fluids and antibiotics.
Zola mothered seven cubs since joining with her mate Mramba at the zoo in 2005 and was still living with her son, Emery.
“Zola will be dearly missed by all of the Animal Care Staff who had the incredible opportunity of working with her, as well as by our entire family of Zoo staff, volunteers, members and visitors, the zoo wrote. She inspired so many to care about lions and their conservation needs, and to take action to help protect vulnerable lion populations in their native range. Zola was a magnificent lioness and will be remembered by us all.”
The zoo says 2-year-old Emery and Mramba are adjusting to the loss, but overall are doing well.