Denver Zoo says lion ‘Krueger’ has died after cancer battle

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Krueger was a South African lion.

DENVER — The Denver Zoo said Tuesday a 16-year-old lion called Krueger was euthanized after battling cancer.

“Krueger was battling cancer of the spleen. He took a turn for the worse yesterday and despite veterinary support, he was not responding. Although never an easy decision, the humane option was to euthanize him,” said Staff Veterinarian Diana Boon.

On average lions live in zoos about 17 years, said Zoo spokeswoman Tiffany Barnhart.

Krueger came to Denver from Ohio’s Columbus Zoo in May 2004.

He is the fourth lion to die at the Zoo this year — all had cancer.

“Krueger was an amazing lion. He was always a patient dad, letting the cubs crawl all over him,” says Denver Zoo Assistant Curator of Large Mammals Vickie Kunter. “The lions in this pride were all the same age and have all died close in time to one another as they are at the end of their lifespan. Even though we were prepared for this eventuality, it doesn’t make it any easier. They were loved.”

Denver Zoo is currently home to four other lions; adult female Baby, adult male Rajah, Sabi, a 1-year-old female cub who arrived as a gift from the Royal Family of Qatar and Sango, a 1-year-old male cub who came from Ellen Trout Zoo to be her mate.