SIDNEY: Dies at 22. LR Zoo

The Little Rock Zoo announced today the death of Sidney, a 22-year-old female lion. The lion was euthanized after a corneal graft on her eye deteriorated.

The lion had surgery in January for degeneration of the cornea and then in September had further eye treatment.


Sarah Kline, the zoo veterinarian, said the lion also had progressive kidney and liver disease. When the eye began looking abnormal last week, 

Sidney, the Little Rock Zoo’s 22-year-old lioness, was euthanized Sunday morning after a corneal graft on her eye deteriorated. Sidney originally had preventative surgery on her eyes in January, when she was diagnosed with corneal degeneration, a thinning of the cornea that also occurs in humans as they age, said Sarah Kline, the Zoo’s veterinarian.


In September, Kline and a veterinary ophthalmologist repaired a corneal perforation or rupture on Sidney’s left eye.

“At that time we realized she also had bloodwork indicating progressive kidney and liver disease,” Kline said. “This is a common finding in both domestic and exotic older cats.


Kline said that by the end of last week, Sidney’s eye was looking abnormal and likely would require removal, the staff decided to euthanize the animal rather than attempt another surgery.

Sidney and a female companion came to the zoo in 2000 from Dickerson Park Zoo, which had received them from a private owner. They had declawed front paws and filed-down incisors, a common practice of the pet trade, a zoo release said.

The zoo hopes to obtain another female to mate with Bakari, a 10-year-old still of prime breeding age. Sidney and her companion, Nyla, were spayed.

The participations in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums species survival plan to ensure genetic diversity. It will be used to make recommendations for mates for threatened species.