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Young lion at Virginia Zoo euthanized due to epilepsy

There's no cure for epilepsy, and it's rare in large cats like lions. The zoo said Emery's quality of life had "significantly deteriorated" throughout October.

NORFOLK, Va. — Author's note: the video above is on file from August 2021.

A young lion at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk was euthanized after suffering from epilepsy.

The disease gives humans seizures and can cause a brain to have abnormal electrical activity. 

Ashley Mars, a spokesperson for the zoo, said Emery was born at the zoo in 2017, and would have had his fourth birthday on Oct. 28. His father, Mramba, is still at the zoo and just turned 18.

Mars said Emery "was diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age," and while zookeepers had been treating him, the medicines stopped working this fall.

She said that's when his quality of life deteriorated.

"His Keepers, the Zoo’s Veterinarian and the entire Animal Care Team have been monitoring the progression of his illness and even with habitat modifications and extensive medical treatments," she wrote. 

Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo, echoed Mars' sentiments that the euthanization was a tough decision.

“We are devasted about the loss of Emery, especially at his young age," Bockheim wrote. "Our role in caring for animals is not only the long-term survival of their species, but to provide the best quality of life for each individual while they are in our care through every stage of their life."

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