(Pittsburgh) (July 2019)—It is with heavy hearts that the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium announces the passing of ten year-old African lion, Razi.
Razi, who suffered from idiopathic epilepsy for the past six and a half years, suffered a grand mal seizure on Sunday, fell in his exhibit, and fractured his jaw. Both veterinary and keeper staff determined that it was not in Razi’s best interest to attempt the difficult surgery needed, as aftercare would be extremely difficult in a 500 lb carnivore, in addition to maintaining a good quality of life given his increased seizure rate.
“It is a sad day for all of us,” says Dr. Barbara Baker, President & CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo. “Our animals are like members of our family and losing a family member is tough. Razi was a magnificent animal, and will also be missed by our visitors who developed a bond with him and his brother Ajani.”
Razi was first diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy after experiencing a seizure in the spring of 2013. At the time, Dr. Ginger Sturgeon, Director of Animal Health, and the veterinary team began searching for what was causing a seizure disorder in an otherwise healthy lion. Numerous tests including a MRI determined that Razi was suffering from idiopathic epilepsy, a very rare condition in lions.
Razi was placed on anti-seizure medications which kept his seizures at a controlled level without leading to secondary liver changes which can be a side effect of the treatment. ”Razi was an amazing cat. He allowed us to get voluntary blood samples from his tail every couple of months to check his medication serum levels and his liver function. It’s so hard for all of us at the zoo to lose an animal we have cared so deeply for but we try to remember all of the good memories and positive impact that he had on our zoo visitors” says Dr. Sturgeon.
Ajani came to the zoo with his brother Razi in 2012 and they have been inseparable over the years. Keepers are keeping a close eye on Ajani during this transition time.
African lions are ambassadors for their cousins in the wild. In recent years, their populations have decreased by almost 40% percent due to loss of habitat, illegal wildlife trade, and human/lion conflict.
With only 20,000 left in the wild, their status is now classified as vulnerable.
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is American Humane Conservation-certified, accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums, and a member of American Humane and the Zoological Association of America. For more information, visit