Amboseli, Lioness of Potter Park Zoo: 1989-2011

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Amboseli, Potter Park Zoo's 22-year-old female lion passed away December 21, 2011

Amboseli, Lioness of Potter Park Zoo: 1989-2011

Dec 28, 2011

It is with heavy hearts that Potter Park Zoo announces the death of Amboseli, a 22-year-old female African Lion; one of the oldest lions in captivity.

“Amboseli had so much personality and touched everyone here at the zoo in some way,” says Dr. Tara Harrison, veterinarian at Potter Park Zoo. “She’ll surely be missed around here.”

Amboseli arrived at Potter Park Zoo in 1989 from Gladys Porter Zoo when she was five months old. She lived a good portion of her life with her brother, who was transferred along with her as a cub. In December of 2006, Amboseli suffered from a uterine fibroid tumor and underwent an emergency spay. One of the five oldest lions in captivity in the world, she was able to live a long life thanks to the treatment she received from the veterinarian and animal care staff at Potter Park Zoo and Michigan State University.

“She was quite an aggressive cat,” explains Jan Brigham, a zookeeper at Potter Park Zoo who worked with Amboseli since she arrived in 1989. “That’s what was so great about her, though. She remained true to what a lion is supposed to be; wild, and strong-willed. She loved lying in patches of sunlight outside. In her old age, she mellowed out a bit. Amboseli was an old soul, and the Feline Primate House won’t be the same without her.”

Potter Park Zoo recently received two female lions, Saida and Ulana from Pueblo Zoo in Colorado as part of a transfer recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP keeps records of all animals in captivity and advises zoos on breeding plans to perpetuate each species. Potter Park Zoo’s former resident female, Mashavu, was transferred to Pueblo Zoo in October as part of the same recommendation. Saida and Ulana are sisters, and are expected to be a good genetic match for Dakota, Potter Park Zoo’s male lion.

Amboseli was named after the Amboseli National Park, a region that spans across the Kenya-Tanzania border to which African Lions are native. Lions are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because of the decline in their population over the past two decades. Potter Park Zoo is proud to play a role in the AZA for the conservation of these animals worldwide.


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