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Blank Park Zoo Lion Gavivi Dies

Posted July 16, 2013 in Web Exclusives

Des Moines (July 16, 2013) – Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo announced today the passing of the female lion Gavivi. The lion was diagnosed with an aggressive type of mammary cancer in 2012 and maintained a high quality of life and remained active longer than expected. The decision to humanely euthanize her was made after her quality of life diminished suddenly. She was 16 years old. Zoo visitors will recognize Gavivi as the lion who was missing a portion of her tail.

“She was instrumental in accepting our new male lion Deuce into the pride,” said Bonnie VanEllen, animal supervisor. “She was a very loving creature that will be missed dearly.”

Gavivi was born in 1997 and came to Blank Park Zoo in 1999 when the Zoo opened the Tom & Jo Ghrist Great Cats exhibit. Her pictures were used on many advertisements for the Zoo and recently featured in an article in The Iowan magazine.

“While this is a sad time for the Zoo family, we now will bring a female lion of breeding age to Blank Park Zoo and hopefully add to dwindling lion populations,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO of Blank Park Zoo

According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, wild lion populations are down significantly, only 30,000 remain. Median life expectancy for a lion in captivity that lives to at least a year is 16.8 years.

Blank Park Zoo, Iowa’s WILDEST Adventure, is open every day from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission rates are $11 for an adult, $6 for a child (3-12 years), and $9 for a senior. Children two years and under and Blank Park Zoo members are free. The Zoo is located at 7401 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50315. Visit the Zoo online at The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) The AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization that sets rigorous, professional standards for zoos and aquariums. The AZA is building North America’s largest wildlife conservation movement by engaging and inspiring the 143 million annual visitors to its member institutions and their communities to care about and take action to help protect wildlife.

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