Mufasa, the regal African lion who awed visitors to Black Pine Animal Sanctuary for more than seven years, has died. He was 22.
Black Pine said in a blog post this week that Mufasa’s health had deteriorated due to his “advanced age and long-term medical issues.”
“We ultimately know it was the right decision, and he was not the cat he was once before. So, there is comfort in that, and also knowing he’s not in pain anymore,” says lead keeper at Black Pine, Jordan Hartleroad.
Mufasa came to Black Pine seven years ago, suffering from an open abscess in his lower jawbone. He endured two surgical procedures over the years.
Lately, though, Mufasa stopped responding to treatment of the infection in his jaw, the sanctuary said in the post. Eventually, he refused to eat and suffered significant weight loss and muscle mass, and his arthritis worsened to the point of obvious pain with movement.
The sanctuary’s healthcare committee made a unanimous decision to end Mufasa’s discomfort and he was euthanized, the post said. At 22 years old, Mufasa lived well beyond the average captive lifespan for a lion – 15 years.
During that life, the sanctuary said “Magnificent” Mufasa was “showered with love and an environment full of enrichment to ensure a high quality of life in captivity.”
“It is common for these incredible animals to stand and be regal right until the end. Mufasa was no exception,” the post read. “He brought much joy to all who had the honor of meeting him, hearing his roar, or being involved in his care during his years at Black Pine. He will be missed, and the hole he leaves will be a large one. It is with heavy and sad hearts that we say a final farewell to the ‘Magnificent’ Mufasa.”
After Black Pine posted news of Mufasa’s death, hundreds took to their Facebook page to share condolences and memories of the animal. By Thursday morning, nearly 400 comments had been posted.
“We really hope through Mufasa and the other animals here, through the stories we share, that we can transform the way people perceive the way captive exotic animals. And start to understand that they’re not pets, they’re not here for us, they’re not here to entertain, and really start to give them some dignified life,” says Black Pine executive director, Lori Gagen.
“Rest in peace Mufasa!,” Brian Nesbitt wrote. “You had an enormous personality and character/ You will be missed but not forgotten.”
Added Bambi Myers: “RIP you magnificent king of cats … no more pain or worries u have to endure.”
Black Pine is now dedicating their annual fundraiser, Lions, Tigers, and Beers, to Mufasa.