John Ball Zoo’s Docha lion dies at 16

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Docha, a 16-year-old lion from John Ball Zoo, died Tuesday.

The African male lion has been euthanized due to progressive neurological problems, the zoo said in a statement.

The zoo said he had been diagnosed with epilepsy since 2011, after undergoing an MRI at Michigan State University. He has since had several health issues, and zookeepers recently noticed some drastic changes in his health. Due to his declining health and quality of life, the decision was made to humanely euthanize him.

Docha was born April 10, 2005 at the Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens and moved to the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapid in May 2007.

During his time at John Ball, he was a favorite with guests and volunteers, the zoo said.

“Docha has made an impact on the staff with his aloof personality and wacky excitement, especially seeing his favorite people,” said Tim Sampson, the caregiver of animal curator Docha since arriving at the zoo. “He will be sorely missed.”

African lions typically live 10 to 14 years in the wild and around 17 years in human care. The zoo was able to give Docha anti-seizure medication after her diagnosis of epilepsy, which prolonged her life more than she likely would have been in the wild.

African lions are considered vulnerable. While they lived across the African continent, habitat loss wiped out 92% of their natural range, the zoo said. There are now less than 25,000 lions in Africa, according to National Geographic.

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