22-year-old lion euthanized at Phoenix zoo due to spine issues

Cookie the lion

In this undated photo provided by the Phoenix Zoo, Cookie, an African lion, sits in here enclosure in Phoenix. Cookie, 22, has been euthanized at the zoo after developing irreversible spine issues, zoo officials said, Thursday, March 11, 2021. (McKenna Nischke/Phoenix Zoo via AP)

PHOENIX — A 22-year-old female African lion has been euthanized after she developed irreversible spine issues, Phoenix Zoo officials said.

They said lion named Cookie had severe, chronic, progressive, irreversible and degenerative changes in her vertebrae and spinal cord. That led to significant hind limb muscle loss and weakness affecting her mobility and quality of life.

The average lifespan of African lions is less than 17 years.

Cookie came to the Phoenix Zoo in 2005.

Zoo keepers say Cookie loved fresh catnip, playing with papier-mache balls, hunting ducks that landed in her enclosure and lying in the warm sun.

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