Zwena, a 13-year-old African lion, was loved by staff for her fierce attitude and big personality. 

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo announced Monday, October 12, the passing of Zwena, a 13-year-old African lion. Affectionately known as "Z," the lion's care team decided to euthanize her following declining health due to neurological issues. 

"In July, we told you we were making adjustments for Zwena as she struggled with chronic mobility issues associated with her neurological condition," the news release stated. "Between July and the beginning of October, she seemed to be having mostly good days. Despite continued treatment and care, she recently started declining quickly."

According to the release, the median life expectancy for African lions is 16.9 years. 

Staff at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are remembering Zwena for her "no-nonsense approach to building relationships with people." Diana Miller, the African Rift Valley keeper and Zwena's trainer for nine years, said she had the biggest personality out of the female lions. 

"When she would see us coming she would either make a happy grumble or snarl at you," Miller said. "She was so sassy and fierce - and she loved to participate in her voluntary training...she was impressive. She made a real impact with our guests."

Not only did Zwena leave a positive impact on staff and guests, but she was integral to her pack as well, according to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. She lived with the pride patriarch, Abuto; her sister, Lomela; and her niece, Elsa. Miller said she acted as a leader to the cubs and loved playing with them. 

"She made me the keeper I am today," Miller said. "You make connections with all of the animals you care for, but some animals leave a bigger paw print on your heart. Zwena definitely did that for me. I am so lucky to have gotten to know her and work with her. We will all miss her so much, but we're grateful for the time we had together." 

Share your thoughts in the comments below.