Contact: Jason Jacobs, (323) 644-4273
The Los Angeles Zoo is saddened to announce that Cookie, our 23 year old female lion has died. Cookie had been under veterinary care for the past month. Her quality of life had diminished and zoo staff made the difficult decision to euthanize her. Initial necropsy results indicate that Cookie had a cancerous condition resulting in her declining condition.
Cookie and her companion Lionel arrived at the L.A. Zoo in 1997 from the Wildlife Waystation located in the Angeles National Forest. Lionel, a male lion passed away in April 2011 at the age of 23.
Cookie’s passing at such an advanced age is a testament to the excellent care she received at the Zoo. Lions live much longer in zoos than in the wild due to the fact that they do not need to hunt or compete with other species for resources.
In 2008, Cookie developed a heart condition called cardiac tamponade in which fluid builds up in a sac around her heart. This prevented her heart from pumping blood effectively to the rest of her body. Because of this she was very slow to move, didn't want to eat and was not acting her normal self. The veterinarians at the Los Angeles Zoo, in consultation with physicians from UCLA and other veterinarians, elected to resolve the situation surgically. Using laparascopes only (cameras and surgical instruments on long tubes), the team removed a small window or piece of the sac so that all the fluid around the heart could drain out. This allowed the heart to function normally. To our knowledge, this was the first time this procedure has been performed in a lion although it is a relatively common procedure in dogs and cats. She recovered beautifully after surgery and had no complications.
Cookie was an animal that zoo-goers enjoyed watching. She will be remembered by zoo visitors and staff alike.