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Phoenix Zoo euthanizes 22-year-old lion due to spine issues

Officials at the Phoenix Zoo say a 22-year-old female African lion has been euthanized after she developed irreversible spine issues. Photo via Phoenix Zoo.
Posted at 9:13 AM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 11:13:22-05

PHOENIX (AP) — Officials at the Phoenix Zoo say a 22-year-old female African lion has been euthanized after she developed irreversible spine issues.

They say the lion named Cookie had severe, chronic, progressive, irreversible and degenerative changes in her vertebrae and spinal cord. That led to significant hind limb muscle loss and weakness affecting her mobility and quality of life.

The average lifespan of African lions is less than 17 years. Cookie came to the Phoenix Zoo in 2005. Zoo keepers say Cookie loved fresh catnip, playing with paper mache balls, hunting ducks that landed in her enclosure and lying in the warm sun.