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Glancer Magazine

BROOKFIELD ZOO | Saying Goodbye to Zenda


The New Year begins on a very sad note at Brookfield Zoo, as the Chicago Zoological Society announces the loss of Zenda, its male African lion, who would’ve turned 14 this July.

Just before Christmas, animal care staff observed Zenda having difficulty standing and walking. Over the past week, veterinarians had been treating his symptoms with medication to help ease the pain. However, yesterday, January 2, his well-being declined dramatically and the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize him. Preliminary necropsy results revealed Zenda had several degenerative discs in his spine that had ruptured as a result of his advanced age and were inoperable.

Zenda, who was considered geriatric, arrived at Brookfield Zoo in May 2008. In his later years, he began losing his impressive mane, but his majestic roar could often be heard from across the park. He was incredibly protective of his mate, Isis, who also arrived that same year. He could often be seen either grooming Isis or sleeping with a paw on her.

Over the years, animal care specialists developed a respectful relationship with Zenda. He even cooperated in his own health care by participating in voluntary blood draws taken from his tail and presenting a paw for vaccine injections.

Staff will be monitoring and working closely with Isis, who will turn 15 this year, over the next several weeks to help her adjust to the loss of Zenda.

About the Chicago Zoological Society

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit




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