Today we have said a fond farewell to one of our pride – our elderly female lion Sheeka.

Close to 19 years old, Sheeka had age-related health conditions including arthritis, kidney and other internal organ issues. She had also lost condition and had noticeably slowed down over the past few weeks, particularly in recent days.

This morning the Zoo’s veterinary team in collaboration with the Zoo’s specialist Carnivore keepers who care for Sheeka, made the tough, but kindest call, to euthanise her.

The Zoo’s Carnivore team say their ‘cheeky Sheeky’, was a lion like no other with a lovely nature and an insatiable appetite, who had a wonderful playful relationship with the pride’s dominant female Kura, who really took Sheeka under her wing when she arrived here in 1999.

She was also an absolute star when it came to training – even allowing us to take blood samples from her tail, which greatly assisted our Veterinary team in being able to run blood tests to check her health without the need for more invasive medical procedures.

Lauren Booth

Sheeka arrived at Auckland Zoo in 1999 from Australia’s Mogo Zoo and had three female cubs in 2001, Zahra, Djembe and Djane. As part of the zoo’s international breeding programme, they relocated to Wellington Zoo in 2002 where they remain.

Auckland Zoo currently has two other lions, females Kura (19) and daughter Amira (16).

In the wild, lions are now listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List due to their declining population from habitat loss as well as from hunting.  Males can live up to 10 years, females up to 15, but just one in 8 lion cubs survive to reach adulthood.