Idaho Falls, ID – Officials from the Idaho Falls Zoo are saddened to report that due to complications with age-related health issues, Dahoma – the 14-year-old male African lion – was euthanized yesterday.
"Although we’ve known for some time this day would eventually come,” states David Pennock, zoo executive director, “it is still extremely hard to lose a member of the zoo family. We care for these animals every day, all day for many years. Dahoma was an incredible representative of his species and will be greatly missed. The past couple of days have been very difficult and emotional for the zoo staff.”
Last summer, zoo staff noticed Dahoma appeared to be having trouble with his back legs. He was placed on a medical regimen of arthritis medication and regular observation. As his conditioned worsened, a CT scan and myelogram were performed of his entire spinal column. Dahoma was diagnosed with inoperable degenerative arthritis in his spine, two bulging discs in his lower back, and difficulties with his muscles and nerves communicating with his brain to tell his body how to operate properly.
Every day, animal care staff at the zoo observed and recorded Dahoma’s condition to document his health and well-being.
As zoo veterinarian, Dr. Rhonda Aliah explains, “Providing excellent animal care and ensuring the welfare of every animal is what we do on a daily basis. We observed and evaluated Dahoma’s quality of life and always strived to provide the best care possible, just as we do with every animal at the zoo.” In recent days, Dahoma’s condition worsened. His care team made the tough end-of-life care decision knowing he would not improve.
Dahoma was born in 2004 at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, WI. He joined the Idaho Falls Zoo family in 2006 under the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for African lions. SSPs are cooperative population management programs within AZA member facilities that help ensure the survival of selected species in accredited zoological facilities, most of which are threatened or endangered. The main goal of SSPs is to maintain genetically and geographically diverse populations.
During his time in Idaho Falls, Dahoma fathered five cubs. Two of the cubs live in other zoos. Dahoma became a father to three cubs last season. The three cubs will remain at the Idaho Falls Zoo for at least another year until they are reassigned to other AZA accredited facilities through the African lion SSP.
The zoo will eventually be assigned a male lion. However, the adult female lion, Kimani, who, at over 15 years old, is the oldest big cat at the zoo will most likely not have any additional cubs in her lifetime.
The African lion SSP has been informed of Dahoma’s passing. They are currently evaluating the best way for Idaho Falls Zoo’s lion pride to help ensure the future of this amazing big cat species.
Photo Credit: Megan Donovan
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Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with zoo staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry Hammon at (208) 612-8122 or [email protected].