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Houston Zoo’s Jonathan the Lion Passed Away

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Jonathan’s signature roar will no longer start the day for employees at the Houston Zoo. The beloved 18-year-old male lion passed away Wednesday morning due to issues with blood clotting and a low number of white blood cells. Last weekend marked his 10th anniversary with the Houston Zoo.

“He was the voice of the zoo,” keeper Kathy Watkins said to the The Courier. The news is especially hard on the employees who maintained a healthy resect for the powerful creature, but couldn’t help but love him. “Jonathan was a rock star from the minute he arrived. A beautiful guy. The term ‘sweetheart’ is rarely applied to male African lions but I think it is truly appropriate for Jonathan,” retired staff member Brian Hill said.

Jonathan left behind his pride which included three female lions named Uzima, Mattie and Nimue. Zoo officials say they don’t seem to be experiencing a sense of loss, but that’s normal for lions that are used to male lions coming and going out of their lives. At this time, there are no plans to “replace” Jonathan, and the zoo is allowing their employees to grieve their loss for a while.