Knoxville Zoo Saddened By Death Of African Lioness

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Knoxville Zoo Saddened By Death Of African Lioness

Posted: 02/05/2014
February 5, 2014 - Knoxville Zoo is saddened to announce the passing of Sekaye, an 18-year-old African lioness who was one of the matriarchs of the zoo's pride of lions.

Sekaye came to Knoxville Zoo in 1997 from the Indianapolis Zoo, joining Aslan and Sylvan from the Kapama Game Reserve in South Africa to become the founding pride of African lions at the zoo's newly-completed Pridelands habitat. In 2006, Sekaye gave birth to three cubs; Ann, Bill and Jimmy. On the recommendation of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which manages the breeding and social placement of all African lions in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Bill went to live at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in Indiana, while Ann and Jimmy remained in Knoxville.

Sekaye's caregivers had been treating the geriatric lioness for symptoms of a urinary tract infection. Over the weekend her health declined and she was examined by veterinary staff at the zoo. When those tests proved inconclusive, she was taken to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine for a more comprehensive examination on Tuesday, where it was discovered that she was bleeding from both kidneys. Sekaye was closely monitored and appeared to be doing well, but unfortunately never awakened following the procedure to diagnosis her condition. She passed peacefully with her caregivers and vet staff by her side.

Found on the grasslands of Africa, African lions are endangered, with only 200,000 estimated to remain in their native range. Knoxville Zoo participates in the African Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP), a collaborative conservation effort by zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to ensure the survival of a genetically healthy population of African lions. Knoxville Zoo has had 47 African lion cubs born to date.

Knoxville Zoo is Knoxville's largest year-round attraction. Located off exit 392 from Interstate 40, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Day. Knoxville Zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, the zoo is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865-637-5331 or visit