Zoo staff say they will remember that Nyla liked playing with her toys and especially enjoyed batting around a large ball in her yard. She was a favorite of many guests and a familiar face at the Zoo for more than 12 years.
At the age of 20, Nyla outlived most of her zoo counterparts and her counterparts in the wild.
Preliminary necropsy results show that Nyla passed from liver cancer. She died overnight and was discovered by Zoo staff early Wednesday morning.
Nyla came to the Little Rock Zoo in 2000 along with her companion Sydney, another female lion.
The two have lived at the Zoo since then and began sharing their exhibit with Bakari, a male lion acquired by the Zoo in 2008.
Both Nyla and Sydney are former pets that were donated to the Dickerson Park Zoo in Missouri. They were then donated by Dickerson Park to the Little Rock Zoo in 2000. They each have declawed front paws and filed-down incisors, a common practice of the pet trade.
"Nyla was a special lion and we will miss her dearly," said Zoo Director Mike Blakely.
*Picture from Little Rock Zoo's Facebook Page