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Greenville Zoo’s remaining African lion dies

Chuma, a 15 year old African lion at the Greenville Zoo, died over the weekend.
City of Greenville
Greenville Journal
Chuma, a 15 year old African lion at the Greenville Zoo, died over the weekend.

The Greenville Zoo’s remaining African lion, Chuma, passed away on the weekend of June 1.

The 15-year-old lion was euthanized due to his worsening degenerative joint disease and spinal neurological issues.

According to the city of Greenville, Chuma was under treatment for orthopedic issues but had regressed. Zoo staff decided he should be euthanized. Nick Kapustin, the zoo’s veterinarian, said it was a difficult decision.

“With anyone who’s had to consider euthanizing their pet, there’s a lot in play, but the bottom line is we want him to have a good end of life,” Kapustin said. “It should be peaceful and not with discomfort and we reached that point with him.”

Chuma’s half-brother, Saied, was euthanized in March after suffering the same ailments. Both lions came to the Greenville Zoo in 2010 from the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia. Kapustin said it was an adjustment period for Chuma after his brother’s death.

“We were monitoring his quality of life and doing regular welfare assessments based on the loss of a family member and companion,” Kapustin said. “He had been adjusting really well, but unfortunately, some of the orthopedic issues progressed despite the treatment.”

A remembrance and ways for the community to share condolences are being planned. The zoo is also working on a strategy to bring back lions in the future, according to the city.

This story was filed as part of an editorial partnership between South Carolina Public Radio and the Greenville Journal, which is responsible for its content. You can learn more about the Greenville Journal here.

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