Heartbreak as UK zoo lion euthanised after showing 'weakness'

James MorrisSenior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
A file image of an Asiatic lion (Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
A file image of an Asiatic lion (Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)

A zoo lion has been euthanised after showing “weakness”.

The Asiatic lion, named Lucifer, was put to sleep at Paignton Zoo at the age of 17.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

According to the Animal Spot website, male Asiatic lions are expected to live until 16, and zoo spokesman Phil Knowling said in a statement on Thursday afternoon: “He was a good age for an Asiatic lion. He was, like a lot of us, showing signs of wear and tear on his body.

“He had some weakness and ataxia – that’s wobbliness in his hind limbs – he would stagger occasionally, especially when going up and down steps, and often stumble.”

He was born at Cotswold Wildlife Park in 2002 and had been at the Devon zoo since 2014.

After a series of tests, experts decided to put him down as “you can’t stop the march of time”.

The zoo’s senior mammal keeper, Helen Neighbour, who worked with Lucifer, said: “He was a lovely male lion in that he was grumpy and bad-tempered, but not too much. He always liked to have the last word.

“He was a great dad [fathering two cubs] and a lovely animal to work with. He was smart enough to train, so we could vaccinate him easily. Us keepers will miss him terribly.”

Paignton said there are just 500 Asiatic lions in the wild, with another 500 in zoos. Paignton is part of a breeding programme to save the species.

Read more from Yahoo News UK

Woman says she woke up with man on top of her in bed at 'rape case' hotel in Cyprus

First image released of 14-year-old cyclist Caitlin Swan who was killed in fatal van crash

Queen is 'deeply upset' by Prince Andrew scandal that has damaged monarchy

Lucifer’s two cubs, a male and female, are the only lions left at the zoo and leaders are now in talks with the European Endangered Species Programme about what will happen next to them.

In September last year, Paignton put down a zebra amid outrage after an image was posted online of its deformed hooves.

Big events to look out for in 2020

What to Read Next