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Zoo Boise, a division of Boise Parks and Recreation, is saddened to announce that Mudiwa, the zoo’s 22-year-old female lion, was euthanized Tuesday morning due to declining health. Test results following her passing confirm the lion was suffering from kidney cancer that had metastasized to her intestines, liver, and lungs. The mean life expectancy for lions under human care is 17 years.

Zoo staff started to notice something was off when Mudiwa began to lose weight and her appetite fluctuated dramatically. During a series of exams over the past six months, the zoo’s animal care and veterinarian staff performed x-rays, an ultrasound, fine needle aspirates, and multiple bloodwork tests to determine a cause. Results show that Mudiwa’s kidney values were increasing, indicating protein buildup that her kidneys couldn’t clear out correctly. According to medical experts, for kidney values to increase like this, it means that at least 67% of the kidneys aren’t functioning properly.

In recent weeks, Zoo Boise’s staff did all they could to help maintain Mudiwa’s quality of life. They provided her with antacids, pain reduction medication, and medication that helped reduce the protein amount secreted in her urine. Along with her regular diet, our animal care team encouraged her to increase food and fluid intake by providing ice blocks, chicken broth, milk, and easy to digest food like liver.

Unfortunately, Mudiwa’s physical health, food and fluid intake, and desire to move drastically declined over the past week. Following careful monitoring and support from the animal care and veterinarian staff, the tough decision was made to euthanize her.

“This is a hard situation for all of our staff, volunteers, and guests,” said Zoo Boise Director Gene Peacock. “It is never easy to say goodbye to one of our beloved animals. There is no doubt Mudiwa’s presence in Boise has made a strong impression and her legacy will live on.”

Mudiwa arrived at Zoo Boise in 2008 along with her sister, Obadiah, and male lion, Jabari. They were the first lions to join the Zoo Boise family. Zoo Boise is still home to 9-year-old male lion, Revan.

“Mudiwa had been a mainstay at Zoo Boise for many years and we appreciate the community’s support during this time,” said Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway. “She was an important part of our zoo family and she will be missed.”

Since 2010, the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund has supported the protection of wild lions in Africa through the Gorongosa Lion Project. Lion populations across Africa are currently threatened, with the number of lions in the wild dropping from 400,000 to only 20,000 in the last two decades.

Zoo Boise has turned the act of visiting the zoo into a conservation action. Since 2007, visits to Zoo Boise have generated more than $3 million towards the conservation of animals in the wild. Zoo Boise is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a national organization that supports excellence in animal care, conservation, education, and science.