Staff at the Houston Zoo are grieving the loss of the animal kingdom’s greatest land-borne predator — Nimue, one of the zoo’s female lions.
The big cat was euthanized by staff on Saturday, July 10 after she was discovered completely unresponsive.
Veterinarians found that an incision has opened following a July 1 surgery to remove bone fragments stuck in her gastrointestinal tract, the zoo reports.
Emergency interventions and care followed; staff made the decision to put the 12-year-old animal down.
This comes after the zoo notes that in her final days of June, Nimue began showing signs of gastrointestinal distress; radiology discovered bone fragments lodged in her stomach. The big cat showed signs of recovery, but then took a turn for the worse.
“It is never an easy decision to euthanize an animal, but it is one we make with the animal’s well-being as the top priority,” said Lisa Marie Avendano, vice president of animal operations at the Houston Zoo, in a statement.
“With world-class animal keepers, five incredible veterinarians, and a complete veterinary clinic, our animals receive the best care possible, and that includes end-of-life decisions.”
Energetic and charismatic, Nimue was known for her engaging persona. She and her sisters, Uzima and Mattie, have been a popular draw for the past 10 years.
“Our team of keepers who have spent more than a decade caring and bonding with this incredible animal are grieving this loss, and we support them through this sad time,” said Avendano.
Nimue, her surviving pride, and male lion Hasani, are ambassadors for their wild counterparts in Africa and serve to educate guests about the work being done to help save this vulnerable species, the zoo notes.
Her death is the first lion loss at the zoo since 2016, when Jonathan, the proud, 18-year-old male lion and alpha of the zoo’s lion pride, passed away.