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Santa Barbara Zoo announces death of African lion

SB Zoo Chadwick_1
Santa Barbara Zoo
Chadwick, a 21-year-old lion at the Santa Barbara Zoo has died.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Chadwick, a 21-year-old male African lion at the Santa Barbara Zoo has died.

The Santa Barbara Zoo announced the animal's death on Thursday.

The zoo said the geriatric lion was euthanized due to complications to old age.

“Chadwick has been dealing with health issues associated with his advancing age for several years. Two weeks ago he developed lameness in his right forelimb, which rapidly progressed to generalized pain that we suspected was associated with spinal changes. He did not respond to multiple treatments for pain relief,” said Dr. Julie Barnes, Vice President of Animal Care & Health at the zoo. “Three days ago, we performed a CT scan, which confirmed our suspicion that he had progression of degenerative spinal disease, which is common in geriatric carnivores.

Chadwick lived at the zoo for about 17 years, and lived longer than the mean life expectancy for lions in human care by almost five years. He was the oldest male "pedigreed lion" alive in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited institution. 

"Chadwick has touched the hearts of countless guests, members, volunteers, and Zoo staff. We'll miss Chadwick's regal presence, trademark roar, and of course, seeing him perched on his rock overlooking the Pacific Ocean," the Santa Barbara Zoo said in a Facebook post.

He was born at the Indianapolis Zoo in 1998 and arrived in Santa Barbara in 2003 ahead of the opening of the Cats of Africa exhibit. Chadwick shared a space with a female lion named Gingerbread. The two had two offspring during their 14 years together, the zoo said.

Chadwick lived alone after Gingerbread's death in 2017 -- most lions are solitary animals in the wild. The pair's offspring, a female named Kiki and a male named Docha, were the first lions born at the Santa Barbara Zoo. They now live in other zoos as part of the AZA Species Survival Plan. Kiki has produced two litters.

The Santa Barbara Zoo says they are planning on bringing more animals to populate the Cats of Africa exhibit. The AZA may recommend bringing a male-female pair for breeding.

Chadwick has been sponsored by the  Dreier Family since his arrival in 2003. You can make a donation to the zoo in honor of Chadwick. Details can be found here:

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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