UPDATED: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 1:38pm
Waco, Texas - Cameron Park Zoo is deeply saddened to announce the death of Sam Jack, a 15 year-old African lion who died Friday, June 14, 2013. Sam Jack was being treated for advanced kidney disease that had progressed very quickly since he was diagnosed in February 2013. Based on his poor prognosis and decrease in quality of life, the decision was made for humane euthanasia.
As veterinary care and animal husbandry advances, geriatric care is becoming an increasing emphasis at AZA accredited zoos. It is especially important at Cameron Park Zoo because as we approach the 20th Anniversary of the zoo's opening, many of our animals have been here since 1993 or shortly afterwards and are also approaching the end of their lifespans. Special care is taken with these aging animals. They are usually on special diets and often have specific physical therapy and medical care to help keep them as healthy and comfortable as possible as they age. Although, staff understands that the increasing age of animals in the collection means they will eventually have to say goodbye, it is still very difficult and all of us at Cameron Park Zoo are mourning Sam Jack's passing.
Sam Jack came to Cameron Park Zoo in 1999. He was named after former City of Waco Mayor, Sam Jack McGlasson, whose widow Elizabeth McGlasson donated funds and solicited matching funds from her friends to construct the African Lion Habitat. Much like the person for whom he was named, Sam Jack, the lion, was a colorful character at Cameron Park Zoo. Cameron Park Zoo Curator of Programs and Exhibits, Terri Cox, once received a call from the Earl Harrison House Manager asking if the zoo could keep Sam Jack inside on evenings that they were hosting an event since his roaring could be heard so loudly in their gardens. She replied that he was kept inside every night, his roar is just so loud it can be heard even through the concrete walls of his night-house.
Sam Jack was born at Knoxville Zoo March 27, 1998 to mother, Sylvan, who is 17 and still alive at Knoxville. His mother was wild born at Kapama Private Game Preserve in Africa. His father, Aslan, was also wild born at Hoedspruit Research Center and died at the age of 15. During his lifetime Sam Jack fathered six African Lion cubs. He is the grandfather of five cubs that were born to his first born son, Kwanzaa, who resides at the Birmingham Zoo in Birmingham, Alabama. He has two other surviving sons, Ade, at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield Mo, and Mashaka at the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin Texas. Lions have been celebrated throughout history for their courage and strength, and Cameron Park Zoo's Sam Jack certainly exhibited these traits throughout his life. He will be missed.
Lions are the only cats that live in groups, which are called prides. Zoo lions typically live into their late teens or early 20s. Male lions in the wild live about 12 years; females live about 15 years.
African lions (Panthera leo krugeri) are listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Animals. The Gir Forest population, which consists of about 300 lions, is listed as endangered.