Racine Zoo's 15-year-old African Lion 'Aslan,' dies

RACINE -- The Racine Zoo announced Friday the passing of their African Lion, Aslan, the patriarch of the pride. He was 15.

In a release, Director Beth Heidorn said:

As many of those who loved Aslan in our community knew, he had a lifelong leg injury. As he grew older, despite a variety of treatments, his mobility decreased and risk of potentially painful injury grew. After a lengthy assessment of his quality of life and incredibly difficult discussions by the Zoo’s veterinary and carnivore teams, the difficult decision was made for humane euthanasia.

At 15 years of age, Aslan surpassed the typical lifespan for his species. He brought joy to every zookeeper who worked with him, and was a fantastic ambassador for his species throughout his life, connecting guests to his wild counterparts and forging connections impossible elsewhere.

Those living close to the Zoo know that he started each day greeting the day with his mighty roar. Recently, his daughter Zuri took up the charge of starting the morning roar but Aslan would quickly join in and often finish it out. He cared the most about his pride mates, always wanting to make sure they were safe, particularly his mate Azizi. He always did his best to position himself so he could still see “his girls.”

He always had a spunky side and liked to surprise his keepers with his bursts of energy and his delightfully awkward sleeping positions. Even though he was a lion, Aslan had a way of connecting with everyone he met. It was often discussed by Zoo staff that he was able to stare into your soul, making you feel you could almost understand one another. The loss of this sweet boy will leave a big hole in the Racine Zoo family.

Aslan was born at Madison's Henry Vilas Zoo in October 2004, moving to the Racine Zoo in 2005.

Aslan has played a major role in African Lion conservation and contributed significantly to the African Lion Species Survival Plan. Aslan has over 50 descendants living in zoos throughout North America, from Portland, Oregon to Palm Beach, Florida, and from Puebla, Mexico to Calgary, Canada, read the release.

“Aslan was an amazing father, mate, and lion, and will be dearly missed by so many,” said the Zoo’s Curator, Aszya Summers. “Aslan’s legacy will continue to inspire for generations through
his descendants, including Zuri here at the Racine Zoo. Aslan had a look that you couldn’t help
but fall in love with, and the connections he built and his contribution to the survival of his
species will be remembered.”