13-year-old African lion dies at Zoo Knoxville

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Zoo Knoxville said Monday Elsa, a 13-year-old African lion, has died.

The lioness was being treated for a systemic inflammatory reaction, Zoo Knoxville said in a news release. On Saturday, her health began to decline rapidly and she became unresponsive, according to the release.

Despite emergency intervention by the zoo’s veterinary team, her quality of life continued to deteriorate. When it became apparent she would not make a recovery, the decision was made to humanely euthanize her, the Zoo said.

Elsa was born at Zoo Knoxville on June 6, 2006, and was “a beloved ambassador for her species,” the Zoo said. Over her lifetime, she educated millions of visitors about African lions and inspired people to take action to save them from extinction.

Elsa, an African lion, died over the weekend, Zoo Knoxville said Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. (Amy Smotherman Burgess / Zoo Knoxville)

Zoo Knoxville has two other African lions Jimmy, Zarina and Ann. They are part of the African Lion Species Survival Plan, a collaborative effort of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) working to ensure a healthy and viable population of lions in human care.

The number of lions in Africa are decreasing due to habitat loss and human intrusion, and it is estimated that fewer than 40,000 lions remain in the wild.

Elsa, an African lion, has died, Zoo Knoxville announced on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019 (Amy Smohterman Burgess / Zoo Knoxivlle)

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