Mufasa, the elderly stately lion who charmed visitors at Black Pine Animal Park for years, has died.
The 22-year-old male African lion had been at the Noble County animal sanctuary for about seven years. According to a media release, the park's animal health care commitee made the decision on Wednesday to "end any further discomfort" for the lion, who suffered from arthritis and a reoccuring infection in his jaw.
Mufasa came to the park with an open abscess in his jaw, sent to the facility from a breeding facility near Monticello, Indiana at the order of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. He was also suffering from poor nutrition.
During his time at the animal sanctuary, the lion underwent two surgeries to correct the abscess which could never heal fully, according to park officials.
Over the last few weeks, Mufasa began to show declining appetite and was losing weight and muscle mass, which, coupled with his worsening arthritis, was making it hard for him to get around, according to the release.
The average life span of a male lion in captivity is 15 years.
Black Pine director Lori Gagen said in the release that she hopes Mufasa's story helps shed light on the suffering of exotic animals kept in captivity for profit or entertainment.
"I urge everyone to carefully weigh their options when it comes to spending money to see or engage with a wild animal, in any context, and be certain they are not enabling poor treatment of animals or endangering the public by supporting bad operators, " Gagen said.