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Lion diagnosed with kidney disease at Zoo Boise

The 22-year-old female lion, named Mudiwa, first joined Zoo Boise back in 2008.

BOISE, Idaho — One of the first lions to join Zoo Boise has just been diagnosed with kidney disease.

The 22-year-old female lion, named Mudiwa, first joined Zoo Boise back in 2008. The median life expectancy of female lions in human care is about 17 years.

According to zoo staff, they first noticed something was wrong when Mudiwa began losing weight and her appetite fluctuated. Over the last six months, animal care and veterinarian staff performed x-rays, an ultrasound, fine needle aspirates, and multiple bloodwork tests to figure out what was going on. 

Mudiwa's results came back and showed her kidney values were increasing, which is an indication of protein buildup. When kidney values increase like that, it usually means at least 67% of the kidneys aren't functioning properly, according to medical experts.

"We are assessing the situation day by day and giving Mudiwa the best care possible," said Zoo Boise Veterinarian Dr. Melissa Cavaretta. "In-between bloodwork, zookeepers are checking on her multiple times per day, monitoring fecal and urine output, how much she is eating, and her body condition to make sure she is stable and comfortable."

For the rest of Mudiwa's stay, zoo staff will be providing her with antacids, pain reduction medication and medication to reduce the protein amount secreted in her urine as a way of maintaining her quality of life.

The Zoo Boise animal care team will be giving Mudiwa ice blocks, chicken broth, milk, and easy-to-digest food like liver to help her increase her food and fluid intake.

"These situations are never easy as every animal is an important member of our zoo family," Zoo Boise Deputy Director Laura Mathews said. "Our staff understands that visitors get to know these animals and form real connections with them. Our staff can relate - some team members have known and cared for Mudiwa throughout the entire time she has been in Boise. She is an important part of all we do, including our conservation and educational efforts."

Zoo Boise appreciates the outpouring of support and well wishes coming from the community during this difficult time. Mudiwa will remain on exhibit while at the zoo, and community members are welcome to stop by and see her.

The zoo will continue to post updates about how Mudiwa is doing regularly on their social media platforms and on the Zoo Boise website

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