The Phoenix Zoo kills the 22-year-old lion as a consequence of spinal issues

PHOENIX (AP) – A 22-year-old African lioness was euthanized at the Phoenix Zoo after experiencing irreversible problems with her spine.

Zoo officials said the lion named Cookie had “severe, chronic, progressive, irreversible, degenerative changes to the vertebrae and spinal cord that resulted in significant muscle loss and weakness in the hind legs that severely affected their mobility and quality of life.”

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

Cookie was transferred from the Pittsburgh Zoo to the Phoenix Zoo in 2005.

Zoo keepers said Cookie would be remembered for loving fresh catnip, playing with paper mache balls, chasing ducks that landed in their enclosure and lay on their backs in the warm sun.

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