The Kansas City Zoo's oldest lion has been euthanized after veterinary staffers were unable to treat him successfully for numerous health issues.
The Zoo reports the lion, named Dumisani, was 18 years old and had lived at the zoo nearly his entire life after arriving in 1997 from Indianapolis. He died Thursday.
Dumisani's parents were from the wild, making his genes desirable for breeding. The zoo brought in two females from Africa in 1998 to diversify the gene pool, but the lions had feline immunodeficiency virus and were not suitable for breeding.
Officials allowed one litter to be produced before the females underwent a contraceptive procedure, but one of them became pregnant anyway.
Jean, one of those African lions, had a litter in 2001: males Mufasa and Simba and a female, Nala. Jean had her second litter with Dumisani in 2005, three males and another female. That litter received Swahili names chosen by Zoo supporters. Their names are Jabari (brave), Shakarri (great hunter), Shangaza (surprise), and Zuri (beautiful). Donna is the other female who arrived in 1998.
Dumisana's seven cubs made his one of the largest prides among American zoos.
Randy Wisthoff, the ZooCEO, commented, "Dumisani. He reminded me of a house cat until you saw him rip apart a bone or place his enormous paw on the window. He was memorable. We were lucky to have Dumisani as a part of our Zoo for so long. He will be missed."
Even though Dumisani could look fierce when the other lions took over his lunch or moved him off his rock, Zoo Keepers will remember his laid-back personality and his "lover not a fighter" attitude, the zoo said in a news release.