Cookie, 22-year-old lion at Phoenix Zoo, euthanized due to declining health
PHOENIX — Cookie, a 22-year-old lion at the Phoenix Zoo, was euthanized Tuesday after suffering from degenerative changes in her vertebrae and spinal cord, zoo officials announced.
The irreversible spine issues Cookie developed led to “significant hind limb muscle loss and weakness that affected her mobility and quality of life,” the zoo said in a post on its website.
She was kept comfortable and closely monitored by zoo staff and a veterinary team over the past few months.
Cookie arrived at the Phoenix Zoo from Pittsburgh in 2005 and lived well past the median life expectancy of 16.9 years for an African lion, according to the post.
As a cub, Cookie and her brother Sheik were paraded around fairs and shows by a private owner before they were rescued and transferred to the Pittsburgh Zoo.
“Cookie was a strong lioness who demanded respect,” Heather Vetter, a carnivore keeper at the Phoenix Zoo, wrote in the post.
“Very discerning when it came to the company she would keep, you could count on one paw the number of keepers she immediately took a shine to. Others had to spend years offering gifts and kind words to win her over.”
Vetter added that Cookie will be remembered for loving fresh catnip, playing with paper mache balls, hunting ducks that landed in her enclosure and lying on her back in the warm sun.