Chicago lost an icon last week.
Sahar, the sole male lion at the city’s Lincoln Park Zoo, died in Kansas overnight Thursday, according to Block Club Chicago. The animal had been moved to the Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina, Kansas, in June while his Chicago habitat received an upgrade.
As noted in a Facebook post from the Rolling Hills Zoo, the 9-year-old exhibited some behavioral changes last Thursday, though a physical performed that day ruled out any abnormalities. However, he died sometime that night. A necropsy will be performed this week.
The lion, born on Jan. 27, 2010, at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, had relocated to Kansas with the Lincoln Park Zoo’s two female lions, Kamali and Zalika.
In a Facebook tribute to the animal, the Rolling Hills Zoo staff called Kamali Sahar’s “favorite,” and said she was “by his side wherever he was in the yard.”
“Sahar could be seen out in the lion exhibit watching over the pride as well as visitors from a high spot on the rocks, lounging under the shade structure or napping in the yard,” staffers wrote.
In a Facebook post from the “heartbroken” Lincoln Park Zoo staff, keepers shared that Sahar came to Chicago in 2012, and “spent his years here growing into his mane and learning to be a pride member. He is loved by so many of our staff, members, volunteers, and Chicagoans.”
According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, male lions in zoos can live into their late teens, or even early 20s. In the wild, the animal’s life expectancy is closer to 12 years.