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Lion at Santa Barbara Zoo euthanized after prolonged illness

Santa Barbara Zoo staff are mourning the death of Gingerbread, a geriatric African lion that lived at the zoo for over a decade.

The lion was humanely euthanized Friday after a prolonged illness, according to a press release from the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Gingerbread was born at the Indianapolis Zoo in 1998 and spent 13 of her 18 years of life in Santa Barbara.

The lion lived to be 18 years and 8 months old, the median life expectancy for an African Lion living in captivity is 16.8 years old.

Director of Animal Health and Care Julie Barnes said that Gingerbread’s condition deteriorated quickly and on Friday the lion did not appear to be in good health

“She had declined rapidly since her last examination,” Barnes said. “Friday morning she was extremely lethargic and did not respond to keepers. Based on her serious medical condition and advanced age, the decision was made for humane euthanasia.”

The lion had a number of issues including irregularities in the blood, arthritis and a jaw condition

Gingerbread had a lifelong mate at the zoo named Chadwick. The male lion is alive at the age of 19. The pair produced only two living offspring, Kiki and Docha.

“She lived a very long and full life, was loved by everyone who looked after her at the Zoo.” Barnes said.

A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of the lion’s illness. Results of the necropsy will not be known for weeks.

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