The Loss of Henry
After a Long Life the Vilas Zoo Puts the 18-year-old African Lion to Rest
by Krista Reyes, age 14
Vilas Zoo’s very own 18-year-old African lion, Henry, died this year.
His health and quality of life was decreased over time due to old age
and late stage renal failure.
Henry was very loved and will be
greatly missed along with his mate, Vilas who died in 2012. Henry
arrived at the zoo in 1997. He and Vilas were the first residents in the
Big Cat Exhibit. Starting in 2003, they raised eight cubs.
cubs were all transferred to different zoos as part of the American
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Lion Species Survival Plan. They
can be found at the Milwaukee, Racine, Topeka, Blank and the Tautphaus
Before Henry died, he was paired with a different
lioness, Shakura. She is the zoo’s youngest female. Even though they
weren’t together for a long time, the zoo staff was hopeful that they
would successfully breed.
According to Henry Vilas Zoo director,
Ronda Schwetz, Henry had a good and long life. He was a favorite among
both staff and visitors.
The life expectancy for African lions in
zoos is 16.8 years. Henry’s life was long and full. Sadly, he was
humanely euthanized because of his deteriorating health. Henry will
never be forgotten.