Kalliope, 13-year-old African lioness, passes away, El Paso Zoo says

Local News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — An African lioness has died, the El Paso Zoo reported on Tuesday.

The 13-year-old lioness, named Kalliope, passed away this week in her sleep.

“Kalliope was beautiful, spunky, playful, mischievous and brave,” said Amanda Leverett, the Collections Supervisor for the El Paso Zoo’s Africa section. “She was the one who usually came up to the window for our educational lion encounter, always willing to share her beauty with everyone. It is so hard to say goodbye to animals we have had the honor of taking care of for so long. Being in a lion’s presence is a special and treasured experience that only few get to have. She will be dearly missed.”

She was diagnosed in December 2020 with a thymoma after a CT scan revealed the presence of a tumor in her chest. To prevent the Thymoma from growing, Zoo veterinary staff immediately began to consider best care options. Ultimately, she was transported to Phoenix in January to receive one dose of stereotactic radiation at Arizona Veterinary Oncology.

Though her initial return and recovery were successful, this month Kalliope started experiencing difficulty breathing, was not interested in eating and would tire quickly. 

“Caring for an aging animal collection is a double-edged sword,” said El Paso Zoo Director Joe Montisano. “We get to see and celebrate births and life from the beginning, but also have to deal with the circle of life and say goodbye to our aging friends when it is time. We do everything we can to provide them with the best care and companionship while they are in our care and that brings us solace, but it is also never easy when they pass.”

Kalliope arrived at the El Paso Zoo in 2010 after she was born at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Kalliope’s sisters, Zari and Malaika, remain on exhibit. A younger male African lion from the Pueblo Zoo in Pueblo, Colo., named Hadari is set to arrive within the next few months.

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