Razi, 10-year-old African lion diagnosed with epilepsy, dies at Pittsburgh Zoo

Razi fractured his jaw on Sunday after suffering a seizure, veterinarians said.

July 10, 2019, 12:38 PM

A 10-year-old African lion at the Pittsburgh Zoo has died after he suffered a grand mal seizure, zoo veterinarians announced Wednesday.

Razi was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy in 2013 and was placed on anti-seizure medication, according to a release from the zoo obtained by ABC News. After Razi suffered a seizure on Sunday, he fell and fractured his jaw, and vets determined it was not in the lion's best interest to attempt the difficult surgery needed.

In addition, it would have been difficult for the 500-pound lion to maintain a good quality of life as he recovered from the surgery, given his increased seizure rate, according to the zoo.

Idiopathic epilepsy is a "very rare" condition in lions, and Razi was otherwise healthy before he was diagnosed, the release states. His treatment plan allowed for him to keep his seizures at a controlled level without affecting changes to his liver, which can be a side effect of the medication.

PHOTO: Razi, a 10-year-old African lion who was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy in 2013, has died, according to the Pittsburgh Zoo.
Razi, a 10-year-old African lion who was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy in 2013, has died, according to the Pittsburgh Zoo.
Pittsburgh Zoo

Razi would even allow vets to obtain blood samples from his tail every couple of months so they could check his medication and serum function, Dr. Ginger Sturgeon, the zoo's director of animal health, who also described Razi as an "amazing cat," said in the release.

"It's so hard for all of us at the zoo to lose an animal we have cared so deeply for but we try to remember all of the good memories and positive impact that he had on our zoo visitors," Sturgeon said.

Razi's brother, Ajani, still lives at the zoo, Dr. Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo, said in the release. The pair arrived at the zoo in 2012 and have been "inseparable" over the years.

"It is a sad day for all of us,” Baker said. "Our animals are like members of our family and losing a family member is tough. Razi was a magnificent animal, and will also be missed by our visitors who developed a bond with him and his brother Ajani."

Zookeepers will keep a close eye on Ajani during this transition time, according to the release.

The African lion species is currently classified as "vulnerable," with just 20,000 left in the wild, according to the zoo. Their populations have decreased by almost 40% due to loss of habitat, illegal wildlife trade and conflict with humans.

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