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Oaklawn Farm Zoo African lion Obi in renal failure

Zookeeper Maria Weinberg snapped this photo of Obi playing with his cubs, Nnenne and Hunter, at Oaklawn Farm Zoo.
Zookeeper Maria Weinberg snapped this photo of Obi playing with his cubs, Nnenne and Hunter, at Oaklawn Farm Zoo. - Submitted

AYLESFORD - It’s not the happiest of days at Oaklawn Farm Zoo.

The Aylesford-based zoo recently announced that one of its most popular residents, Obi, is suffering from renal failure.

“Obi, the African lion, has been one of our most recognized residents and a favourite of many since he first arrived here as a cub four years ago. Our lions have historically lived very long lives and have been in their late teens/early 20s before showing signs of aging. Our hope was that our current pride would follow this same trend. Sadly, that won't be the case,” a post published on the Oaklawn Farm Zoo Facebook page Nov. 9 reads.

Zookeeper Maria Weinberg works closely with the big cats, and started noticing a change in Obi’s behavior and appetite in October. Vets and specialists were consulted, tests were completed and the results were heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, all tests have come back indicating that our dear boy is in renal failure and that there is no cure. He still seems quite content, is eating reasonably well and still seems to be enjoying good quality of life and so we will let him live out as much time as he has left and, though it will break all of our hearts, we will make the decision to help him on his journey when the end approaches - we will not let him suffer,” the Facebook announcement states.

The zoo celebrated Obi’s fourth birthday Sept. 27.

“So many people have followed him since the time that he was a cub. He came as a youngster from Ontario in the fall of 2013 and people have followed him because they saw him from the time he was little,” said Oaklawn Farm Zoo co-owner Gail Rogerson in a brief phone interview Nov. 10.

Obi spent a great deal of time with zoo staff as a cub before joining the Oaklawn’s pride on a full-time basis.

“He spent a lot of time at Maria’s house and Maria truly is attached. That’s hard,” said Rogerson, who enjoyed frequent visits from baby Obi in her own home.

 

 

Obi at six-and-a-half months old. File
Obi at six-and-a-half months old. File

 

Obi at six-and-a-half months old. File

 

Obi is looking old for his age but still eating, Rogerson said. She stressed that they do not know how long it will be before his health takes a turn.

“It could be years, you just can’t tell. As long as he’s eating, that’s a good indicator,” she said.

Obi has fathered two cubs at Oaklawn with resident lioness Nyah. Hunter was born in April 2016 and Nnenne was born in October 2016. Zookeepers often describe the siblings as “inseparable.”

The eldest African lion in Oaklawn’s young pride, Sterk, turned five in August.

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