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Posted by Diana Jones on 03/30/2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                March 30, 2012



Tara Henson – (405) 425-0219 or (405) 919-9038, cell or [email protected]

Candice Rennels – (405) 425-0298, or (405) 412-6172, cell or [email protected]



 The Oklahoma City Zoo is sad to announce the death of Aslan, an 18-year-old African lion, on March 30, 2012. A favorite with Zoo guests, Aslan was often seen perched on top of the hill in Lion Overlook, surveying his “kingdom” and sometimes treating guests to a mane-shaking roar.

Aslan had been nauseated and not eating well before his annual wellness exam in January. During the exam, Zoo veterinarians noticed that his spleen was markedly enlarged. A biopsy of the spleen showed that Aslan was suffering from small cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer that is resistant to treatment, especially in big cats. Aslan was given the steroid prednisone to slow the progression of the disease and ease some of his discomfort, and given extra food to help fight weight loss.

Aslan spent his last days enjoying the sunshine in Lion Overlook with his two mates, Bridget and Tia.

“For a while his quality of life was still good. He was still eating and could move around his habitat and seemed to be fairly comfortable,” said Jennifer D’Agostino, Director of Veterinary Services. “Once he became noticeably weak and could no longer stand up, we had to make the difficult decision to euthanize him.”

Born in 1996, Aslan arrived at the Oklahoma City Zoo in 2007 from the Knoxville Zoo as part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding recommendation. Many Zoo fans will remember the resulting birth of four lion cubs in November of 2007. First-time moms Bridget and Tia gave birth within two days of each other; Bridget had a male and a female and Tia had two females. Those cubs, named Xerxes, Malaika, Zari and Kalliope, were hand-raised by Zoo staff and remained on view at the Zoo until they moved as a group to the El Paso Zoo in January 2010.

“Aslan was a wonderful cat,” said Laura Bottaro, Curator of Mammals. “We are all very saddened by his passing and will remember him fondly.”

If you would like to share your memories and thoughts about Aslan, please go to the Zoo’s Facebook fan page at Photos of Aslan will be added to the Zoo’s website at and on the fan page. Your photos and memories are welcome.


EDITOR’S NOTE:   Photos of Aslan are available upon request. To view a photo gallery of Aslan, click here. 

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