March 23, 2011 / 12:20 AM / 8 years ago

Pennsylvania zoo euthanizes one of country's oldest male lions

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) — A Pennsylvania zoo has euthanized one of the five oldest male lions in the United States due to age-related ailments, a zoo spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old African lion, Juma, arrived at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium in 1990, when he was just a year old, according to a statement on the zoo’s website.

Juma had been confiscated from a private breeder in Ohio after local farmers complained to the sheriff’s office about him escaping from his enclosure and eating poultry, the statement said.

During the past year, the lion had been suffering and stopped eating a week before he was euthanized.

“He had a lot of age-related illnesses and also feline dementia, which is not uncommon since he was very old,” said Tracy Gray, a zoo spokeswoman.

Dr. Stephanie James, the zoo’s director of animal health, said the animal “would sometimes forget where he was and look around like he was lost.”

Zoo keepers tried to encourage him to eat by giving him his favorite food, ground turkey, but he consumed only a few ounces of his usual seven pounds, she said.

Shiba, a female lion who was Juma’s companion, spent hours grooming and stayed close to him before he died, Kathy Suthard, lead carnivore keeper, said in a statement.

Reporting by Daniel Lovering; Editing by Jerry Norton

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