Whipsnade Zoo’s two African lions, Kia and Max, were sadly euthanised this week as they were succumbing to a number of age-related conditions that were affecting their quality of life.
The 16-year-old sister and brother have lived at Whipsnade since their birth in 2006, alongside their brother Neo, who died in November.
Born to mum Saturn, and dad Spike, who both came to Whipsnade in 2005 from West Midlands Safari Park, Kia and Max have been firm favourites among staff and visitors alike for many years.
Since Neo died in November, keepers and vets have kept a close eye on Kia and Max and were quick to notice the geriatric lions were experiencing similar symptoms; difficulty getting up and moving, and problems with their coordination.
Sadly, after treatment and care from the vets, the lions’ pain began to reach a point that it could no longer be managed with medication. The veterinary and keeper teams decided it was time to put the lions to sleep.
This is a very sad time for all who knew Kia and Max, and for the keepers who have cared for them for so many years.
It also means that for the first time in decades, Whipsnade Zoo’s lion habitat lays empty. African lions are an iconic species for the zoo, but also an important species in terms of our conservation aims. We are committed to caring for lions at Whipsnade and committed to ensuring that any future pride we care for makes the maximum possible contribution to the conservation and protection of their species. For this reason, there will be a period of time in which the Whipsnade lion habitat will remain empty, while we find and prepare the right breeding group.