CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s beloved California sea lion Duke passed away Thursday.
Zoo officials said Duke was a favorite of many guests and employees.
At almost 31-years-old, he was one of the oldest of his kind in any zoo in North America. The median life expectancy for this species is 23.
“Duke was slowing down but could easily find his way around his habitat and participated in training and play activities with his care team,” said Senior Keeper Lisa Potter. “In recent months, his behavior and demeanor changed, and his appetite decreased. He just wasn’t the same old Duke.”
Duke’s care team, which included five veterinary staff members, a nutritionist, and five marine mammal specialists, had been monitoring his health and doing everything possible to keep him comfortable.
“Our top priority for geriatric animals is maintaining the highest quality of life until the end of life. We feel that we accomplished this with Duke, with a highly capable and passionate group of staff dedicated to giving Duke all that he needed to feel comfortable and happy while he was with us,” said Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard.