Pittsburgh zoo mourns death of African lion
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium reported Wednesday that its 10-year-old African lion Razi died after suffering a grand mal seizure Sunday.
Zoo officials said the seizure caused Razi to fall in his exhibit and fracture his jaw. The lion had suffered from idiopathic epilepsy for more than six years.
The zoo’s veterinary and keeper staff determined it was not in Razi’s best interest to attempt the difficult surgery needed. Aftercare would be extremely difficult for the 500-pound lion, in addition to maintaining a good quality of life given his increased seizure rate.
“It is a sad day for all of us,” said zoo president and CEO Dr. Barbara Baker. “Our animals are like members of our family and losing a family member is tough. Razi was a magnificent animal, and will also be missed by our visitors who developed a bond with him and his brother Ajani.”
Razi was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy after a 2013 seizure. At the time, Dr. Ginger Sturgeon, director of animal health, and the veterinary team began searching for what was causing a seizure disorder in the healthy lion. After an MRI and several tests, Razi was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy, a very rare condition in lions.
Razi was placed on anti-seizure medications that kept his seizures at a controlled level without leading to liver changes, which can be a side effect of the treatment.
“Razi was an amazing cat. He allowed us to get voluntary blood samples from his tail every couple of months to check his medication serum levels and his liver function,” Sturgeon said. “It’s so hard for all of us at the zoo to lose an animal we have cared so deeply for but we try to remember all of the good memories and positive impact that he had on our zoo visitors.”
Keepers are keeping a close eye on Razi’s brother Ajani during the transition time. Ajani came to the zoo with his brother Razi in 2012 and they have been inseparable over the years.
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .