The record heat wave over the weekend led to the deaths of at least six people, and now, one lion.
On Tuesday, Carolina Tiger Rescue — a nonprofit wild cat sanctuary in Pittsboro, North Carolina — announced that a 17-year-old female lion named Sheba had died due to the excess temperatures, which had soared into the 90s during the previous week.
According to a post on the organization’s Facebook page, Sheba’s liver and kidney were unable to recover after she got overheated, even after medical workers cooled her down.
“The staff worked for over 24 hours, including running IV fluids and other supplemental therapies, but her kidney and liver values continued to rise through out the day,” a note from the Carolina Tiger Rescue read. “After working for so long to try to bring her back, we had to make the heartbreaking decision to let her go.”
Sheba had come to the Carolina Tiger Rescue, along with two other lions, from Texas. Upon her arrival in North Carolina, Sheba quickly established herself as the matriarch of the pride of three.
“She always kept Sebastian and Tarzan in line and was the first to work out new enrichment items,” the Carolina Tiger Rescue said. “Her confidence and leadership was seen the moment she stepped into Quarantine on her first day.”
“Rather than being worried about the new people, she felt the need to walk around and check out everything about her new space. She walked the perimeter, stood on her hind feet and looked at the roof, and sniffed every corner,” they continued.
The post’s author said that Sheba would always “hold a special place in my heart,” and that the lion “will also stand out to me as the epitome of what it means to be a lion — strong, confident, and smart.”
“Her presence will be greatly missed in the sanctuary,” the author said.
Many patrons of Carolina Tiger Rescue mourned Sheba in the comments.
“Condolences to the Carolina Tiger family,” one wrote. “Sheba was a force to be reckoned with and she will be greatly missed. Thank you to everyone who cared for her and supported those who care for the animals.”