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OKC ZOO SADDENED TO ANNOUNCE DEATH OF FEMALE AFRICAN LION

Beloved African lioness, Bridget, 18, died at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 at approximately 6:30 p.m. Tuesday morning caretakers noticed significant changes in Bridget’s behavior. She was lethargic and showed no interest in eating or training. The next day vet and caretaker teams observed that Bridget appeared to be in pain resulting in the decision to perform an emergency examination. During the exam, the OKC Zoo’s veterinary care team discovered an excess amount of fluid buildup around Bridget’s heart which is indicative of heart failure or infection. Given her advanced age and the severity of her condition, the vet and caretaker teams made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Bridget. The veterinary team will conduct a necropsy (animal autopsy) to determine exact cause of death. Initial results will be available next week.

Born at the OKC Zoo’s Lion Overlook in 1999, Bridget was a fan-favorite among Zoo guests and recently achieved worldwide fame as the story about her mysterious “mini-mane” became a global sensation. This spring, the Zoo shared the news of Bridget’s unusual mane, usually only grown by male lions, that sprouted between March and November 2017. Veterinary staff and caretakers developed behavioral training methods allowing them to safely draw blood from Bridget for testing to help determine the cause for her late in life mini-mane. Blood test results identified elevated levels of hormones from what was believed to be a benign tumor that developed in one of Bridget’s adrenal glands. Throughout the process of identifying this hormone condition, Zoo veterinary staff reported Bridget’s overall health was excellent for her age.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) reports the median life expectancy for African lions is 16.9 years. African lions are classified as vulnerable with population in the wild decreasing due to poaching, disease and habitat loss throughout Africa.

The OKC Zoo’s Cat Forest is home to African lions Hubert, 6 and Bridget’s sister, Tia, 18. The Zoo is excited to announce that its animal family is growing with the recent addition of two new lionesses, Moto and Dunia. The two-year-old sisters arrived at the Zoo last month from AZA-accredited Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon as part of a breeding recommendation made by the African Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP). SSP programs oversee the population management of select species within AZA member zoos and aquariums. Caretakers are allowing Moto and Dunia time to become familiar with their surroundings and meet Hubert through a planned introduction process. The new girls are off public view at this time, but details of their debut are coming soon.

The public is invited to leave their special memories of Bridget on the Zoo’s social media sites at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Visit the Oklahoma City Zoo and learn to care, connect and conserve! Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Regular admission is $11 for adults and $8 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay up-to-date with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by visiting Our Stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming Oklahoma Zoological Society members at ZOOfriends.org or in-person at the Zoo! To learn more about these and other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.

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The following are direct links to the OKC Zoo’s blogs about Bridget:

Mini-Mane Mystery Solved: Blood Test Results Provide Unexpected Answer, posted March 20, 2018

The Curious Case of Bridget’s Mane, posted February 19, 2018

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