CINCINNATI — Duke, the Cincinnati Zoo’s 30-year-old California sea lion, died Thursday, according to zoo officials.
The median life expectancy for this particular species is 23.
Members of Duke’s care team said they had been monitoring his health and keeping him comfortable during his final weeks and days.
“Duke was slowing down but could easily find his way around his habitat and participated in training and play activities with his care team,” said senior keeper Lisa Potter. “In recent months, his behavior and demeanor changed, and his appetite decreased. He just wasn’t the same old Duke.”
We're sorry to have to share the news that our beloved sea lion Duke, a favorite of many guests & employees, passed away earlier today. At almost 31yrs old, he was one of the oldest of his kind in any North American Zoo (median life expectancy is 23) https://t.co/OGxGbverCC pic.twitter.com/JtFc5xffHh
— Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) April 18, 2019
Duke was one of the oldest California sea lions in any zoo across North America, zoo officials said. He was receiving special “senior care” at the zoo including a special diet and regular checkups with a veterinarian.
“Our top priority for geriatric animals is maintaining the highest quality of life until the end of life,” said Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard. “We feel that we accomplished this with Duke.”
Potter said Duke will be missed.
“He was special…so laid back, smart and sweet. He was a great ambassador and enjoyed interacting with visitors and his caregivers,” she said.