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‘Adored’ lioness euthanized at Santa Barbara Zoo

Gingerbread, left, an African lioness that lived at the Santa Barbara Zoo, and Chadwick. Gingerbread, who was 18 years old, was euthanized Friday after being ill for some time.
Gingerbread, left, an African lioness that lived at the Santa Barbara Zoo, and Chadwick. Gingerbread, who was 18 years old, was euthanized Friday after being ill for some time.

The Santa Barbara Zoo said goodbye Friday to its 18-year-old African lioness Gingerbread, who was euthanized after a prolonged illness.

Despite treatment from specialists over the past several months, the elderly lioness’s health continued to decline. Zookeepers decided to euthanize Gingerbread, who lived at the Santa Barbara Zoo for 13 years, after discovering her lethargic and nearly unresponsive Friday morning.

“She lived a very long and full life,” Julie Barnes, director of animal health and care at the Santa Barbara Zoo, said in a news release. “(She) was loved by everyone who looked after her at the zoo, adored by our guests, and had a lifelong companion in our male lion Chadwick.”

Gingerbread, who was born at the Indianapolis Zoo, lived longer than many African lions do in captivity; the median age is 16.8 years, according to the news release. Chadwick is 19 and receives special care for his age and poor vision.

Though the cause of the lion’s illness has not yet been determined, some of her health issues included an abnormal spleen, declining blood results and arthritis. A necropsy will be performed, but results will not be known for several weeks.

Megan Henney: 805-781-7915, @megan_henney

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