Cameron Park Zoo’s 15-Year-Old Lion “Sam Jack” Dies

“Sam Jack,” the Cameron Park Zoo’s 15-year-old male lion, which was suffering from advanced kidney disease, was euthanized Friday.

(Zoo photo)

WACO (June 14, 2013)—“Sam Jack,” the male African Lion that was a must-see attraction for Cameron Park Zoo visitors for 14 of his 15 years, was euthanized Friday after being diagnosed with severe kidney disease in February.

“Based on his poor prognosis and decrease in quality of life, the decision was made for humane euthanasia,” the zoo said in a press release Friday afternoon.

“Although, staff understands that the increasing age of animals in the collection means they will eventually have to say goodbye, it is still very difficult and all of us at Cameron Park Zoo are mourning Sam Jack's passing,” the press release said.

Sam Jack was born on March 27, 1998 at the Knoxville, Tenn., Zoo and was acquired the next year by the Cameron Park Zoo.

He was named in honor of former Waco Mayor Sam Jack McGlasson, whose widow Elizabeth donated funds and solicited matching donations from friends in order to construct the zoo’s African Lion Habitat.

Zoo officials say he was as colorful of a character as the man for whom he was named.

His roar was so loud that it could be heard in the gardens of the Earl Harrison House on North 5th Street, but when the manager of the historic home asked if Sam Jack could be kept indoors when evening events were scheduled, Curator of Programs and Exhibits Terri Cox replied that the lion was kept inside at night.

His roar was so loud it could be heard even through the concrete walls of his night-house, Cox told the manager.

He fathered six cubs during his life and was the grandfather of the two cubs of his first-born son Kwanzaa, on exhibit at the Birmingham Zoo in Birmingham, Ala.

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