PITTSBORO, N.C. — Sheba the lion overheated and died during last week’s heatwave, according to a Carolina Tiger Rescue Facebook post.
The sanctuary in Pittsboro, North Carolina, says Sheba was 17 years old and died from kidney and liver failure before staff could cool her down.
Staff worked for over a day running IV fluids and other supplemental therapies but had to “make the heartbreaking decision to let her go,” the post says.
Lions are expected to live about 10 years in the wild, so she was already quite old, according to the sanctuary.
Sheba was the matriarch of a pride of three lions that came to the CTR from Texas. As a cub, she was once walked up and down the beaches of Cancun for profits.
They say she always kept two other lions in line, Sebastian and Tarzan, and she had great confidence and leadership with her pride.
ALERT! Keeper Takeover: Happy Birthday to Sheba and Sebastian lions!!! I caught this exchange between the two of them and figured I’d share it with all of you! Happy New Year!!! – Keeper Cara #carolinatigerrescue #predatorsnotpets #openyoureyestothewild #lions #northcarolina #pittsboronc #chathamnc #sanctuary
She wasn’t afraid when she first arrived at the CTR and spent time walking around when she got there, sniffed every corner and stood on her hind feet to check out the roof.
The post says Sheba stands out as the epitome of what it means to be a lion: strong, confident and smart.
Carolina Tiger Rescue is a wild cat sanctuary devoted to saving cats in captivity and in the wild, according to its website. The nonprofit works to rescue cats that have been abandoned, rescued or given up.