Lake Superior Zoo loses another lion sibling

Lily, 14, was euthanized after suffering from an untreatable health condition. Her brother, Leo, died in April. A third sibling, Malkia, is the Duluth attraction's last lion.

Three lions
A trio of lion siblings at the Lake Superior Zoo —Malkia, left, Leo, center, and Lily — celebrate their second birthday in September 2009. Lily was euthanized this week; Leo died in April.
Bob King / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — The Lake Superior Zoo has lost its second African lion in three months.

Lake Superior Zoo_Lily lion
Lily, a lion at the Lake Superior Zoo, springs up on her hind legs and paws the window of her enclosure face to face with Sam Maida, then-CEO of the zoo, in 2012.
Bob King / File / Duluth News Tribune

Lily, 14, was euthanized after she showed signs of an illness earlier this week that developed into an untreatable condition, the zoo announced in a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon. In April, her brother, Leo, also 14, died in his sleep of an autoimmune disease. Their sister, Malkia, is the zoo's remaining lion.

“Losing an animal here at the Zoo is like losing a member of our family," Chief Executive Officer Haley Hedstrom said in the Facebook post. "Lily was a charismatic animal and will be missed greatly by our team, members and community.”

The decision to euthanize Lily came after zoo and veterinary staff found a possible mass and free fluid around her heart and chest. "She became progressively worse, lethargic and her appetite decreased dramatically," the Facebook post said.

They grow up so fast. It seems like yesterday when three African lion cubs arrived at the Lake Superior Zoo. Just 6 months old, they were playful, curious and an instant hit with zoo visitors.

Lily, Malkia and Leo were born Sept. 21, 2007 , and arrived at the zoo when they were cubs. Lily, who weighed more than 300 pounds, enjoyed "rubbing on the windows and interacting with guests, rubbing on special scent enrichments, rolling in a pile of her siblings and hearing herself roar," the Facebook post said.


The zoo said that Malkia will continue to live in Duluth, but due to her age, it would be "dangerous and stressful" to introduce her to another lion or pride. To donate a gift for Malkia, go to .

Members Only
During the colder months, cat naps get extended, monkeys move inside and bears take a break, but life finds a way as thick snow blankets Duluth's zoo.

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