African lion


Mourning a Loss in the African Savannah

August 01, 2023 | 2 minute read

1 August 2023 – It is with heavy hearts that we share that our beloved 12-year-old African lion, ‘Aslan’ passed away yesterday.

Our Animal Care, Health & Welfare team noted a change in Aslan’s behaviour on Sunday. Like many elderly big cats, he had been previously diagnosed with kidney and cardiac disease and had been under close observation by his dedicated care team and veterinary staff since that time. Due to concerns about the rapid onset of his symptoms, our Animal Care, Health & Welfare team conducted a veterinary exam, under anesthesia, yesterday to determine the cause of these changes. Although the anesthesia and examination went smoothly, initial diagnostics determined that his kidney disease had significantly worsened since his last exam and sadly he died during recovery. We won’t know his cause of death firmly until a necropsy is completed, and we’ll share more information when we know it.

Aslan, and his brother ‘Baruti’, came to the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo from the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in July 2012 when they were both two years old. They’ve lived with us since this time and were joined in 2019 by our lionesses, ‘Mali’ and ‘Sabi’. The median life expectancy for lions in human care is 16.9 years.

Saying goodbye to the animals we love and care for is never easy, but it is especially heartbreaking when the loss is unexpected. Lions are a social species and our Animal Care, Health & Welfare Team will be carefully monitoring Baruti, Mali and Sabi, following the sudden loss of a member of their pride.

We know that our community will be as saddened by this news as we are. Aslan will be greatly missed by staff, volunteers, visitors, and our online community. Please keep our Animal Care, Health & Welfare team in your thoughts during this difficult time.

African lion

African lion ‘Aslan’