Birmingham Zoo Mourns Death Of Kwanza, An African Lion

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A 16-year-old male African lion at the Birmingham Zoo died Tuesday after being diagnosed with lymphoma.

The Birmingham Zoo and its staff had been closely monitoring and treating the animal for age-related health issues, including kidney disease, the zoo said in a news release. An outside laboratory confirmed the presence of lymphoma, a common cancer in domestic cats that also has been seen in large cats like lions and tigers. Earlier this month, Kwanza was treated with a combination of chemotherapeutic drugs and oral steroids in hopes of slowing the disease's progression.

“Kwanza initially responded to medical treatment but then his appetite decreased and the difficult decision was made to euthanize him,” the statement said.

“Kwanza was a longtime beloved member of our animal family and always received the best care and attention from our Animal Care and Veterinary teams,” Birmingham Zoo President and CEO Chris Pfefferkorn said. “His passing is a devastating loss for not only our staff and volunteers but also for our guests and members who loved him. Kwanza will always hold a special place in our hearts and he will be deeply missed.”

Kwanza was born Dec. 24, 2004 at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas. He came to the Birmingham Zoo in February 2006. In 2011, he fathered five lion cubs, a litter for African lions, and their arrival was described as a huge contribution towards the conservation of the species, the zoo said.