ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – After being diagnosed almost a year ago with renal failure, Sarabi the lion passed away Friday morning at the ABQ BioPark Zoo.
The immediate cause of death was a ruptured splenic tumor, but according to the BioPark, renal failure is a common ailment in big cats.
BioPark Senior Zookeeper Tony York described Sarabi as a beautiful lion.
“I’ve worked with a lot of lions and her size and beauty made her unique,” he said. “She was one of the more beautiful lions I’ve seen.”
Last November, BioPark staff noticed Sarabi was not eating. After an examination, they discovered her kidneys were compromised and that she was low on potassium.
After increasing her vitamins and supplements, she seemed to recover for a few months.
According to York, though, she appeared to have been affected by the death of her companion Cosmo.
“Once Cosmo passed, she wasn’t the same,” said York. “She was lonely and was reluctant to come into the den.”
The lioness was brought to the BioPark in late 2011 from a zoo in Texas to serve as a companion to Cosmo.
Sarabi was 19-years-old when she died. In the wild, lions live an average of 10 to 14 years.
According to York, big cats do not normally live this long in the wild, so aging lions like Sarabi often have an array of health issues like aging humans.