Zoo’s lioness Zuri, famous for pseudo-mane, dies at 19

The Topeka Zoo’s lioness Zuri has died at age 19, the zoo announced Thursday. (Source: WIBW)
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 1:48 PM EDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW/Gray News) – The Topeka Zoo’s lioness Zuri has died at age 19, the zoo announced Thursday.

Zuri was famous for her pseudo-mane, which she sprouted in 2021 after the passing of the pride’s male lion, Avus. Zookeepers explained the phenomenon, saying although Zuri was a female, she started producing more testosterone after the death of Avus, which resulted in her pseudo-mane.

Zoo officials said Zuri had undergone treatments for kidney disease over the last two years, which is common in older lions. However, in April, her symptoms increased, and her appetite declined.

An exam last week revealed Zuri was suffering from renal failure. She had stopped eating completely. The zoo made the decision to euthanize Zuri.

“Zuri was truly a lioness in charge, and her strong and independent personality was evident to all who knew her,” Animal Curator Shanna Simpson said. “She was always fierce, yet had an amazing relationship with our animal care staff. Zuri has always been a star in our hearts, and we will miss her tremendously.”

Zuri and her sister Asante were born in April 2004 at the Fort Worth Zoo. The pair arrived in Topeka in 2005.

Asante is facing her own age-related challenges, Simpson said, and will be monitored closely.

“Especially because of the bond she shared with her sister, we will be extra attentive to Asante’s needs for the foreseeable future,” Simpson said.

At 19 years old, Zuri surpassed the median life expectancy for African lions, which is 16.9 years.