[Roar Foundation] – On Dec. 18, 2015 Shambala’s magnificent, cherished lion king – Zeus, left us in body, forever. His life had been taken too soon, ravaged by a cancer that could not be controlled by us mortals. It is the design of the wild exotic feline to disguise all physical imperfections, because of the instinctual dictates in their species to take out any animal because of old age, illness or physical impairment. Because of those facts, we are often left with the fact that there is nothing that can be done to save, or cure the animal, regardless of how much we love and care about them.
When I went over to see Zeus in mid-morning, I saw him lying on the porch of one of his dens, which are embedded with the warmest, soft grass hay a lion could ever desire. Close to the fencing in the enclosure next to him were lions, Zoe and Cyrus, side by side, as close to Zeus as they could get. It was like they were keeping vigilance. The sight made me feel uneasy, apprehensive. In mid-afternoon, we were notified that our veterinarian, Dr. Gay Naiditch, had arrived.
We, Chris Gallucci, the Shambala staff, Trudy Farley, Dr. Gay Naiditch and I, stood around Zeus as we said our silent farewells. Each of us thinking of the uniqueness of the fascinating being who now lay still before us. Zeus was truly loved and admired for his “magnificent-ness”. He was truly “The Lion King”. He was physically the perfect lion, unusually large, statuesque, the handsome strong face, his amber Lion eyes, gentle but strong. The luxurious blond, mixed with dark hairs in his huge mane flowing as he would run across his territory to greet us, his worshipers, those who admired him, and who cared for him. No matter what the relationship each of us had with Zeus, the feelings about him are strong and defined. He seemed to be benevolent towards every one of us, except for one member of the staff, Greg, with whom Zeus would become violent when he caught sight of him. We could never understand or discover any reason for this attitude, since the man was dedicated to the care and love for the animals. Shambala was not the first place at which he had been employed, with excellent references, and he had been with us for several years. We can only surmise Zeus had been treated very badly by a human in the past. This characteristic has been witnessed in other wild ones we have rescued, most recently with Patrick, our gentle, gloriously, magnificently memorable Liger, who would display a frightening degree of anger at the sight of Rafael! After researching Patrick’s history, I discovered Rafael resembled the man who had beaten him on a regular basis at the roadside zoo where Patrick lived outside of Chicago, before being rescued and brought to the Shambala Preserve. Both of these men were the focus of a wild emotion which none of us caused, that we cannot truly explain. I’m telling all of you this to give you an indication of how complicated is the journey on which we have embarked since the early seventies.
We can only feel grateful that both Zeus, Patrick, and the entire Wild Ones’ population of Shambala have had the best of care, love and affection. Watching Zeus running to Chris, his mane flowing in the wind, to say hello to his great friend was an absolute joy. Of course, this was a daily, sometimes several times a day ritual, to be enjoyed and revered, by Chris, Zeus and those of us lucky to be witnesses. Zeus would run to me, as well, but not with the same excitement as with Chris. Albeit, I was always honored. Our staff has special feelings about each of the animals, however all receive the same loving, professional care and understanding they deserve.
Zeus will be greatly missed by all of us, the Shambala staff, his Wild Parents, our Safari guests, and the members of The Roar Foundation, who have joined our “pride”. We will all miss the sight of him, his magnificent roar, from which I would awaken during the night with a very special feeling of joy to realize how fortunate I have been to know the beings on the Shambala Preserve, and to be able to recognize the roar of Zeus.
When Christmas approaches next year, on Dec. 18, 2016 we will all be thinking of that day, that day our magnificent lion king went away forever, in body only, because his spirit will be with all of us, forever.
To you, our magnificent lion, Zeus – thank you. From all of your admirers for these amazing memories. You are so beloved that you will live in our hearts forever.
Long live Zeus Shambala’s lion king.
Zeus arrived at The Shambala Preserve on July 6, 2002, from a family in Huntsville, Texas, who felt Zeus should be living in a place with more room and surrounded by his own kind. How fortunate for us, and him, they chose The Shambala Preserve for this amazing lion to live out his life. Our thanks to that family, Zeus has been a force to remember.
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