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Masses found during exam of Sacramento Zoo's beloved lioness, Cleo

SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento Zoo on Friday said it is awaiting test results after two separate masses were found during an examination of its beloved African lioness, Cleo.

The masses were found in Cleo's neck and along her back. Cleo's care team opted for the exam when they noticed that, despite a healthy appetite, the lioness was losing weight.

Cleo, the Sacramento Zoo's African lioness Sacramento Zoo

Cleo is 18 and one of the oldest lions in human care, the zoo said. A care team was already assigned to her due to her age to assess her weight weekly and monitor her activity levels, appetite and well-being daily.

The procedure to retrieve samples of the masses happened on November 15. It was performed by a veterinary team comprised of the Sacramento Zoo's own veterinarians and surgeon, as well as Dr. Bill Culp of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Zoo officials said the test results will determine Cleo's care plan going forward.

Kamau, the Sacramento Zoo's male African lion who died in June 2023 Sacramento Zoo

The finding of the two masses comes nearly six months after the Sacramento Zoo lost its male African lion, Kamau. Kamau was 16 when he was euthanized after medical treatments were no longer able to provide relief from his declining health.

Together, Kamau and Cleo conceived a trio of cubs in October 2014 – Inara, Saphira, and Demarcus. All the cubs were moved to other zoos in Arkansas and New Jersey, but Kamau and Cleo stayed in Sacramento and were a big draw for visitors to the capital city's zoo.

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