Sunday evening, officials with the El Paso Zoo announced the loss of their 7-year-old male African lion, Rudo.
According to officials, over the previous weekend, Rudo suffered a neurological disorder which left the right side of his body completely paralyzed.
Zoo keepers and veterinary staff had been managing his health and determined the prognosis for a good quality of life was poor, and humane euthanasia was the best course of action.
“For the past 6 years, we have watched Rudo grow from a nervous, timid young lion into a confident and strong leader of his pride. It gave us great joy to see him get his courage and bond with his three females,” Amanda Leverett, Zoo Collections Supervisor.
“We are so saddened at this very sudden loss that came way too soon and wish we could all have more time with him.”
Zookeepers and veterinary staff ran several tests including a MRI scan performed at The Hospitals of Providence. Laboratory and imaging results ultimately showed that Rudo had a severe inflammatory spinal cord lesion in his neck which was inoperable.
Over the course of the week, zookeepers and veterinary staff worked around the clock to make sure Rudo was comfortable and pain-free, and initiated treatments to control the inflammation.
Despite these efforts, Rudo’s condition did not improve.
“It was a huge team effort all week to give Rudo the intensive care he needed to allow time for possible improvement and response to treatment. Ultimately, his spinal cord condition was too far deteriorated to recover, and we had to say goodbye – it is an unexpected and deep loss,” Dr. Victoria Milne, Chief Zoo Veterinarian.
Rudo arrived at the El Paso Zoo in March 2014 from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington.
“Rudo was very shy when first introduced to the female pride here in El Paso,” zoo officials added. “The priority on arrival was for him to feel at home, and comfortable with the zookeepers that care for him.”
Eventually, Rudo and the females bonded well and could be seen together on-exhibit in the Africa section of the zoo.