For Release: December 4, 2005
John Gibbons (202) 633-3083
National Zoo to Examine Lion
The National Zoo’s 17-year-old male African lion, “Tsavo,” has developed a small cherry-sized mass on his lower lip that the Zoo’s veterinarians plan to remove Monday morning. Zoo staff noticed the growth in early November and have been observing it closely since then. A veterinary surgeon will assist the veterinarians in removing the mass with laser technology; it will then be sent to the Zoo’s pathology department for analysis.
Anesthesia is risky for any animal, and especially for one as old as Tsavo. Serious anesthetic complications, such as death, are more likely to occur with elderly animals. Tsavo was born at the National Zoo on November 15, 1988. In the wild, male African lions rarely live longer than 12 years; in captivity they have an average life expectancy of 13 to 15 years.