Houston Zoo Mourns after Jonathan the Lion’s Death

Jonathan the Lion Passes Away

Early this morning, the Houston Zoo lost an important member of their family. Jonathan the Lion passed away in the early hours of the morning this Wednesday, September 14, 2016.

Jonathan, who lived to be 18 years old, was feeling poorly the night before he passed away. The zoo veterinarians performed a full exam on the big cat, only to find that he was suffering from a blood clotting issue and a low white blood cell count. Blood clotting and low white blood cell count are common issues that plague elder feline patients. The average life span of a lion in the wild is between 10-14 years old. However, a lion in captivity can live upwards of 25 years of age. Jonathan lived a full life of 18 years before his passing, leaving behind his pride of three lionesses.

The Houston Zoo rescued Jonathan from a private owner in 2006 when he was only a few years old. Jonathan became a favorite at the Houston Zoo for both the Houston Zoo patrons and the zoo keepers or wildlife attendants.

“Jonathan’s impact on our keepers and guests will not be forgotten,” Dr. Adrian Fowler, Vice President of Animal Operations for the Houston Zoo, said. “Our team of keepers who have spent more than a decade caring and bonding with this incredible animal are grieving this loss, and we support them through this sad time.”

The Houston Zoo has been a partner in several conservation projects to help lions in the wild.  The population of lions has drastically dropped in the last 20 years, mainly due to the encroaching human population. It is estimated that the lion population in the wild is less than 30,000 and declining due to  poaching and canned hunting farms. The Houston Zoo will miss Jonathan’s morning roar that signaled  the start of each day.