Madison zoo's Henry the lion dies - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Madison zoo's Henry the lion dies

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Photo: Jennifer Johnson Photo: Jennifer Johnson

MADISON (WKOW) -- Henry Vilas Zoo has announced a long-term zoo resident has passed away.

Henry, the zoo's 18-year-old African lion, had late stage renal failure.

"Henry was beloved by zoo staff and visitors, and he will be greatly missed," said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.  "He and his previous mate, Vilas, contributed greatly to the survival of their species, and towards educating the public on the importance of preserving our natural world."

Henry has been in Madison since 1997. His long-time mate Vilas died in 2012. The couple were the first residents of Henry Vilas Zoo's newly renovated Big Cat Exhibit. The two have raised eight cubs who have been sent on to other zoos.

Experts say life expectancy for African lions in zoos is 16.8 years. The zoo says although Henry lived a long life at Henry Vilas Zoo, it recently became apparent to zoo staff that his quality of life was diminishing.  Henry was euthanized on Wednesday.

"Henry had a long and rich life at Henry Vilas Zoo. He was a favorite of staff and visitors alike and will be sorely missed," said Henry Vilas Zoo Director Ronda Schwetz.  "His contribution to the strength of his species and their survival will be felt for generations. His legacy lives on in the eight cubs that he sired and all the zoo visitors that he inspired."
 
Henry had been recently paired with Shakura, the zoo's young female lioness, earlier this year after Vilas' passing.
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