John Ball Zoo lion Docha dies at 16

Grand Rapids

John Ball Zoo’s Docha, a 16-year-old male African lion, has died. (Courtesy John Ball Zoo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Docha, a 16-year-old lion at John Ball Zoo, died Tuesday.

The African male lion was euthanized due to progressive neurological issues, the zoo said in a release.

The zoo said he has been diagnosed with epilepsy since 2011, after having an MRI at Michigan State University. He has since had multiple health problems, and zoo keepers recently noticed drastic changes to his health. Due to his declining health and quality of life, the decision was made to humanly euthanize him.

Docha was born on April 10, 2005 at the Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens, and moved to Grand Rapid’s John Ball Zoo in May of 2007.

During his time at John Ball, he was a favorite with guests and volunteers, the zoo said.

“Docha impacted the staff with his aloof personality and his goofy excitement especially when seeing his favorite people,” said Tim Sampson, animal curator Docha’s care giver since he first arrived at the zoo. “He will be greatly missed.”

African lions generally live to 10 to 14 years in the wild, and around 17 years in human care. The zoo was able to give Docha anti-seizure medication after his diagnosis of epilepsy, which made his life longer than it probably would have been in the wild.

African lions are considered vulnerable. While they used to live across the entire continent of Africa, habitat loss has eliminated 92% of their native range, the zoo said. There are now fewer than 25,000 lions in Africa, according to the National Geographic.

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