Zoo Mourns the Loss of Cha Cha the Lion

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Zoo Mourns the Loss of Cha Cha the Lion


For Immediate Release

DES MOINES, Iowa (March 28, 2012) – Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo announced today the passing of the male lion Cha Cha. The lion was diagnosed this week with inoperable liver cancer and was humanely euthanized because his quality of life continued to decline. He was 16 years old.


“He brought a piece of the wild to Des Moines that we all could admire,” said Bonnie VanEllen, animal keeper. “He enjoyed entertaining those who admired him through training demonstrations.”


“Cha Cha was one of the most visible animals at Blank Park Zoo and was an ambassador to show the public about the need for conservation of all animals,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO of Blank Park Zoo.

According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, wild lion populations are down significantly, only 30,000 remain. In the wild, male lions typically live 12 years.


Cha Cha was born in 1996 and came to Blank Park Zoo in 1999 when the Zoo opened the Tom & Jo Ghrist Great Cats exhibit.


In 2006, Cha Cha was one of the lions that the Chicago Field Museum studied to help determine that thicker manes in male lions played a role in sexual attraction in female lions. Lions that live in northern zoos tend to have thicker manes because of the colder climate. As a result, zoo officials proclaimed Cha Cha ‘one of the sexiest males alive.’


The search will begin for another male lion to come to Blank Park Zoo; however this is a complicated process that will take time.


Memorial contributions can be made to Blank Park Zoo Foundation at www.blankparkzoo.com. The Zoo is also asking the public to share their favorite stories, pictures and videos of Cha Cha on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/blankparkzoo.


Blank Park Zoo wishes to thank Loving Rest Pet Cemetery for their cremation services.


About Blank Park Zoo

Blank Park Zoo, Iowa’s WILDEST Adventure, will be open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. through April. Winter admission rates are $7 for adults, $3 for children under 12, and $5 for seniors and active military. Children two years and under and Blank Park Zoo members are free. The Zoo is located at 7401 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50315. Visit the Zoo online at . The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) The AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization that sets rigorous, professional standards for zoos and aquariums. The AZA is building North America's largest wildlife conservation movement by engaging and inspiring the 143 million annual visitors to its member institutions and their communities to care about and take action to help protect wildlife.



i hope they get a new male lion ?

cjsmom2003 | | 05/20/2012 12:44 PM
I love the big cats, and seeing that thick mane and those massive teeth was absolutely awesome. Lion heaven now has their true king.

Confi Dan Chill | | 04/23/2012 5:16 PM
we all loved him so much,it makes me cry.

anna | | 04/06/2012 7:55 PM
Will there be a replacement lion?

Adam Morse | | 03/29/2012 4:22 PM
I would really love to "see" some footage that recorded a good, hearty roar. I will miss that the most.

Steve | | 03/28/2012 6:34 PM
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