Alexandria Zoo lion dies, new one to be introduced - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Alexandria Zoo lion dies, new one to be introduced

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 ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) -- The Alexandria Zoo is mourning the loss of one of its oldest residents. Tallukah, a 19-year-old female lion, had to be put down last week after a battle with cancer.

News Channel 5's Brooke Buford talked to zookeepers about Tallukah and got to meet the new king of the zoo taking her place.

Though you might not know from the loud roaring coming from the lion pen at the Alexandria Zoo, things are a little quieter this week at the exhibit.

"It's hard to deal with," said Rhonda Napier, the lion zookeeper. "But, I know she's better off now. She's no longer in pain or suffering."

Tallukah was put down after a battle with cancer. The lion had been at the zoo since she was a cub. 

"She was under my primary care," said Napier. "I took care of her. I did her enrichment and her feeding and cleaning - everything for her."

The void won't last long. Two months ago, the zoo received a new lion, a 2-year-old male named Taj, who came from a litter of five cubs in Omaha. 

"He's still adjusting," said Lisa Laskoski, general curator at the zoo. "He's not liking his new home and being away from mom and his brothers and sisters at the moment."

It will be awhile before he can be introduced to the public. Without the companionship of a female lion, the transition is tough and he's a bit grumpy.

"We're confident that with some time and keeper care and love that he'll come around," said Laskoski.

That challenge will be Napier's.

"He's a typical 2-year-old young male," said Napier.

But, with a career that spans nearly 30 years, she says she's up for the challenge.

The zoo says it has already put in a request for a new female lion to join Taj. They hope that will come soon in the future.

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