Greenville Zoo Announces Death of Chuma the Lion

City of Greenville

The Greenville Zoo has said goodbye to its remaining African lion. With deep sadness, Chuma was humanely euthanized at the age of 15 due to a rapid and irreversible worsening of his degenerative joint disease and spinal neurological issues.

Chuma had been under treatment for orthopedic changes and was being monitored with bloodwork and other diagnostic testing. Over the past few weeks, he showed more negative progression that further impacted his quality of life. Zoo staff met to discuss his health status and the consensus for his wellbeing was for him to be humanely euthanized.

“It’s a difficult decision. It’s one that we try to approach objectively, subjectively and collaboratively with all the stakeholders who are involved in his care. With anyone who’s had to consider euthanizing their pet, there’s a lot in play, but the bottom line is we want him to have a good end of life. It should be peaceful and not with discomfort and we reached that point with him,” said Greenville Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Nick Kapustin.

Chuma came to the Greenville Zoo from the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC, in 2010 with his half-brother Saied. Saied was humanely euthanized in March after suffering the same health ailments.

“It was an adjustment period for Chuma,” Kapustin said. “We were monitoring his quality of life and doing regular welfare assessments based on the loss of a family member and companion. He had been adjusting really well, but unfortunately, some of the orthopedic issues progressed despite the treatment.”

The pair inspired millions of zoo visitors over their lifetime and will be greatly missed. The zoo is developing plans for a remembrance and ways for the community to share condolences. The City of Greenville and the Greenville Zoo are working on a strategy to bring back lions sometime in the future.

Written by the City of Greenville.