TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Topeka Zoo announced Tuesday afternoon that Dakota, a male mountain lion died after 10 days of “declining health.” The zoo had taken Dakota to a local hospital where they learned he had a perforation in his gastrointestinal tract.
Dakota joined the Topeka Zoo in 2009 and shared a habitat with Cassy, both were orphaned in the wild and spent their early years in Denver before coming to Topeka. According to the zoo, the average lifespan of a lion is approximately 13.5 years, Dakota was 14.
“He was the best painter in the zoo. He was such a good artist! He loved fish, loved to play with balls, and loved his keepers,” Shanna Simpson and animal curator said.
“Working with older animals is difficult. We have built strong relationships with them, and they have entered a time in their lives where they require more time and specialized care. Maintaining the strength of these relationships is important so that we can maintain the best care for them and can pick up on small changes. It also means that it is much harder on us when their time comes,” Wrylie Guffey, Animal Curator and Elephant Manager says. “Every day we have with them is treasured.”