A white lion famously donated to the Cincinnati Zoo by magicians Siegfried & Roy has died. The zoo says the lion named "Prosperity" was "humanely euthanized" Monday.
The 22-year-old animal had "extended age-related health issues," the zoo writes in a Facebook post. The median life expectancy for a white lion is 16 years, according to the post.
Prosperity came to Cincinnati in 1998 when the famous magicians and entertainers Siegfried & Roy decided the lion cub should be raised around other cubs.
"Prosperity was a very special lion from the very start," writes zookeeper Laura Carpenter. She was born on Christmas Day in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the care of the famous entertainers, Siegfried and Roy. Her inexperienced mother failed to care for her, so she was hand-raised by Roy Horn himself, along with his staff of animal caregivers and trainers."
Carpenter goes on to say she had worries about Prosperity's ability to assimilate given she was used to eating off a silver platter, flying in private jets, and riding in limousines, but she says the lion bonded with the zoo's two young males, "Sunshine" and "Future," who were loaned to the zoo that same year by the magicians.
Prosperity birthed four cubs with Sunshine, three of which were transferred to the Toledo Zoo. A daughter remains in Cincinnati. "Gracious," now 18 years old, is being monitored by zoo staff. The zoo says the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recommends against transferring Gracious to live with other lions because of her age.
"(Prosperity's) longevity, and that of her 18-year-old daughter Gracious, can be attributed to the special geriatric enrichment, diet and TLC that she has received from her care team," the zoo says.
Prosperity outlived her two male companions and her three male cubs.
"Prosperity always rolled with the changes with a calm reserve and was the most wonderful lion. She holds the distinction of being named the official mascot of the U.S. Senate, where the most powerful lawmakers are known as lions," Carpenter eulogizes.
"We will miss you, our most special of lions, you have been the best lion anyone could have hoped for. I am most honored to have gotten to take care of you these many years. Farewell, my beautiful lion. May you have a special spot in Heaven that is most fitting for the Queen that you are."
White lions are caused by a rate genetic mutation. They are not albino, rather their coloring comes from a recessive gene called a color inhibitor. The AZA banned intentional breeding of white tigers in 2011 because of inbreeding concerns and problems.