Adelor Memorial

Lincoln Park Zoo Bids Sad Farewell to King of Urban Jungle

Adelor the African lion euthanized today

(Chicago, Feb. 1, 2012) -- Lincoln Park Zoo is saddened to report on Feb. 1 that animal care staff made the difficult decision to euthanize Adelor, a geriatric male African lion due to progressively deteriorating health and quality of life. 

Adelor was 18 years old and lived at the zoo since 1995. Over the years he fathered five cubs. Guests of the zoo often remarked that seeing him was a highlight of their visit.   

“He would often be seen lying on the top of the large boulders of the exhibit where he could survey his territory and monitor his pride,” said Mark Kamhout, zoological manager. “Guests of all ages would flock to the lion exhibit when Adelor began roaring as he announced his territory several times a day. He was a wonderful leader of the pride and was very protective and affectionate of the females under his care.” 

The median life expectancy for lions (assuming the individual survives the first year of life, a particularly risky time for most mammals) is approximately 14 years. The maximum longevity recorded is 26 years. 

Adelor was one of many geriatric animals living at Lincoln Park Zoo. With advances in veterinary medicine, nutrition, husbandry techniques and exhibitry, animals are living longer in zoos and aquariums around the nation. As a result, managers and care takers develop new ways to address the unique needs of geriatric animals.

Fifteen-year-old female lioness, Myra, is the sole remaining African lion at Lincoln Park. The zoo is working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ African Lion Species Survival Plan to identify another lion, or lions, which can be brought here to accompany Myra. No firm plans have yet been determined.  

African lions are native to the southern Sahara Desert down to southern Africa, excluding the Congo rain forest region. Wild populations are classified as vulnerable, with numbers declining due to habitat loss throughout Africa.

Lincoln Park Zoo is helping conserve the species through the Serengeti Health Initiative, a program dedicated to studying the Serengeti ecosystem and working to eradicate diseases like rabies and distemper that impact wild lion populations there.  

Adelor was a beloved individual and ambassador for his wild brethren. The Lincoln Park Zoo family is saddened by his loss. A memorial page has been set up in his honor. Adelor fans and friends of the zoo are welcome to leave comments, share memories, or express condolences to animal care staff who are especially affected by his loss.

If you are interested donating to the Adelor Memorial Fund as a tribute to the zoo's beloved lion, please click here.

All proceeds will benefit female African lion Myra and other geriatric cats at Lincoln Park Zoo.




It seems like yesterday that Adelor arrived in Chicago, and even knowing in recent years that he'd become a senior, it was hard not to think of him as a youth. I always enjoyed hearing his roar and feel fortunate to have experienced it on so many occasions. King of the Urban Jungle, indeed. He will be missed. Goodbye, Adelor, and thank you.

I cannot tell you how sad this announcement made me. Just the day before - on an uncharacteristic 50 degree January day, my sons were at the zoo. As your article reported, went running when we heard Adelor roaring. We found ourselves in the window where Adelor seemed to look into my son's eyes and welcome him to the zoo. My one year old, roared in response. I teared up in that moment. He was such a beautiful animal...just as hear lions described...proud and majestic.
I cannot bring myself to tell my son about Adelor.
I only wish I had known to say "goodbye."
Rest in peace, Adelor.
And thank you for making my sons' so very very happy in a way that Mommy never could.

From my 7yr old Cate:
I am sorry that the daddy lion died. I hope you find a new daddy lion to live with Myra soon.

From my 4yr old Helena:
I'm sorry he died. I hope you get a new lion soon. I hope the new one is a good boy.

From my 2yr old Eamonn:
I'm sorry that the daddy lion is dead. I love lions.

We will miss you, Adelor. I just saw him last Wednesday and he looked so happy chewing on his big bone. That is how I will remember him.

Oh how I'll miss my Saturday mornings after the farmers' market with you and your roar! My heart goes out to everyone who will miss their day being a little brighter because we had our own lion king in the city.

Our family decided to honor our parents with a bench at the zoo, and chose the spot closest to Adelor. Our mother was one of his biggest fans, and we wanted to have a spot where we knew people would enjoy the bench. Whenever I visit the zoo, there are people sitting there, admiring Adelor in all his majesty. I will miss him terribly, and respect him always.

One of my favorite photographs of Adelor is one taken on a bitter cold day in February, 2007. When he was 'talking' to the ladies, I captured his breath in the cold. I will remember him fondly.

Adelor - How we will miss you so! Your majesty, your royal posture, your beauty, your ROAR! You were the essence of all things wonderful at the Lincoln Park Zoo and will be sorely missed. Whenever we read "The Happy Lion", we think of you! Sending you lots of love!

Rest in peace Adelor. You will be dearly missed at the zoo from now on. :(

Adelor was a magnificent Creature of God- often he captured my camera with his noble presence- He will be missed--------------

Thank you Adelor for all the wonderful early morning visits... As a neighborhood resident, I spent more mornings than I can count drinking my coffee, sitting on the bench or perched up against the fence watching you start your day as well. Some of my best Chicago memories.. thank you. You will be missed.

Majestic Adelor, our favorite stop at the zoo was to visit you & Myra. Can't imagine the zoo and the big rock without you. Your ROAR was the most awesome sound! We love you and will miss you giant friend! <3

Adelor, I will never forget your powerful roar that woke us up our first night at our new apt across the street. It was 4 am and I thought for sure you had jumped the big fence and was standing next to our bed, breathing heavily in our faces. We already miss you and your 4 am roar...RIP Adelor.

You will be missed. Hearing your early morning roar was a beautiful sound to get my day started. I loved how I could seemingly get so close to you from the other side of that thick glass. I see you now wondering a vast open golden prairie.

I feel great sadness at the loss of Adelor. As a Wed. GRV I remeber with a smile how everyone scurried to the lion habit when Adelor and Myra displayed their glorious roar. It will be very hard to replace. My heart is with the Keepers who took care of the lion Habitat.
Sincerely, Elaine Loweenthal

My 5 year daughter and I stopped by the zoo today to bring some flowers and say our goodbyes. One of the guys at the Lion's den said that reading these posts were helping everyone get through this rough time. Someone shared this poem with me last year when our cat had to go through the same thing as Adelor. Reading it makes me cry but also makes me feel happy thinking Adelor is in THE CAT BED IN THE SKY

I thought that you might like to know I
got here safe and sound
Though you must feel rather strange
not having me around;
Of course, I am not really gone, I've
just moved out of sight,
And I don't need that old body, things
had stopped working right.
Sometimes I'm sorely tempted, to pop
back down and see,
Just how you are managing, without
any help from me,
But I'm sure that you will understand I
can't come back to stay,
Though I have it on good authority
that we'll meet again some day.
Oh yes - I've got a comfy bed, just like
mine down there at home,
So things here are quite adequate, I
cannot gripe or groan;
But while I'm up here waiting, in my
cat bed in the sky,
I'll regularly look in on you, and keep
a watchful eye.

Thank you so much for the poem.....
And thank you Adelor for the wonderful years you spent with us here in Lincoln Park. I remember when you 1st came to the zoo....
You were the reason I signed up to be a MEMBER...and I have been one ever since!
We will miss you.
Most sincerely


Very nice poem. Thx.

Thank you, Karen, for sharing that poem. I am among those who will miss that beautiful creature at the zoo. I know he got good care. I saw some flowers there yesterday...maybe they were the ones that you left there. That was great! Made me cry.

OMG that poem just made me start bawling my eyes out..... Thanks for sharing.... :-)

Thank you so much for this poem.

Karen, I just wanted to Thank you and your daughter for bringing the flowers yesterday. I took them back to Myra and she came right over to me, smelled them, and then put her paw up. Thanks for posting the poem, the other keepers and I really appreciate all the support and the wonderful memories shared by everyone about Adelor.

You have been there through so many phases of my life: from volunteering right out of college, to considering the zoo for my wedding, to snacks with the kids while watching the lions. We just visited last Saturday. Hope you caught all our good vibes. We will miss you terribly and our condolences to dear sweet Myra.

Adelor, you beautiful old cat... I will miss you and always remember the humility I felt, in your midst. It was heartwarming to see your comfort in captivity - your proud demeanor, your deep, booming voice, your ease with and affection for Myra. I'm glad that Zoo staff knew you well enough to see your suffering and intervene. In your old age, you reminded me of the cat companions I've attended and finally, lost.
My heart is heavy with the absence of you, but also for Myra and your handlers. They'll be in my thoughts and prayers. I know you've joined little Marta and the two of you will be guardian spirits for the loving caretakers you've left behind.
My love and gratitude, old boy. It's a poorer world without you.

I am so saddened to hear the news of Adelor's passing. I actually thought about going to see him on Jan. 31, as it was such a nice, warm day, but a recent fall the other week kept me from going. I'm glad to read that he was out that day enjoying the sun and warm weather. He deserved that on this last day at the zoo.

I've been following Adelor since he arrived in 1995 and, subsequently, the birth of his five sons with his mates, Myra & Helene. What a magnificent specimen he was, and contributed greatly to the enjoyment of zoo visitors. He was always the first one I went to see at the zoo - and was always the highlight of the day.

My deepest sympathy to the zoo staff and to his beloved Myra. You could really tell that they had a relationship, and I'm happy to hear the zoo plans on finding a suitable companion for her to reside with. I'm sure she feels the loss greatly.

I hope Adelor will be immortalized properly, he has given us so much. I'd love to see him at the Field Museum and, hopefully, there will be a statue at the zoo as well. When they plan for the next generation of lions to evolve, it would be most fitting to bring one of his young descendants to Chicago to continue his legacy -- The Circle of Life!!

Rest in peace, Adelor. You were loved by many, and will be remembered and missed forever!

My sweet beloved Adelor. Seeing you perched on your rock made my morning. Everytime I worked at Wild Things I would watch you. I would take my lunches outside watching you. I will never forget how you would roar goodbye when I left for the day. May you rest in peace my sweet gentle friend.

Your spot on the rock will be hard to fill. Not only handsome, but what a personality.
Till we meet again.

Adios Adelor. Que en paz descanses. Tuve la oportunidad te visitarte y eras mi favortito! Chicago te va extranar!

Godspeed Adelor, May you Roam, Rumble , Roar & be a King of Kings in Gods' Heaven, Home...You will be oh-so-o-o missed by our family. You, Myra and your babes were always our 1st & last stop, 1-2- and sometimes 3x a year...How do we best describe your Majestic Presence and 'ROAR'? Ah-mazingly territorial, vibrant, ground vibrating, powerful, bee-autiful, bone-chilling, frightening, exil-l-erating,"COVER YOUR EARS" (LOUD)!! 'smile' and just your being U..always a Beauty to look uoon...Purr-fection...Thanks for sharing Ad..we'll love, miss, treasure, reminisce and remember you always.. until we meet again Big Guy..

LPZ Staff & Volunteers- our hearts are heavy for you, and all each of you do to 'Run the Zoo' and make it as pleasant of a home as it can possibly be for all of 'your' animals- isn't overlooked by us..-.thanx & god bless..we love lincoln park zoo - bee-cause of all of you....

Adelor and the lions were the first animals I would go see when I entered LP Zoo. It won't be the same, but I'll always remember him. RIP.

So sad... I just saw Adleor at the zoo on Tuesday, January 31... he was outside, enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. I'm glad he got to do that on his last day on this Earth. Peace be with him, and with all the keepers and fans he gained over the years. He will be missed.

You were everything a lion ought to be. Enjoy your savanna in the sky.

I loved Adelor. He was a fond memory of my childhood. I remember my kindergarten class "adopted" him in 1995. So sad to see him gone. RIP dear friend.

To Adelor the African lion:
I am 56 years old and have been going to the Great Lincoln Park Zoo since I was 8 years old.
Today Feb.1, 2012 you were euthanized. I can only say that I find peace in knowing that you passed from this life peacefully.
You graced my camer lens for 18 years. Your gift to all who met you is beyond measure.
I will cherish having you in my life.

Thank You Adelor 

Gurley Hardin
The Light Catcher

Dearest Adelor,

I remember the day you arrived at LPZ. Your magnificent presence brought excitement and wonder to everyone at the zoo that day and every day thereafter. What a treat to hear your roar and see your beautiful coifed mane ( I think Myra groomed it every day.) You were truly regal. You were also an excellent father to your precious offsprings.

My deepest condolences to your wonderful and most caring zookeepers and your main squeeze Myra.

I know you have a special place in heaven.You will be sorely missed.


Just a month ago we adopted him. His adoption was for my daughter leyla's Xmas present. So sad to hear he died. We will miss you so much dear friend

Thank you for all the great roars and always being there to make us smile. Peace to you and the keepers.

My heart is filled with sadness. You will be missed, my friend.

Addy, you will be missed. We are sad that our daughter never had the chance to see you, but we will definitely share the story with her about the day you decided to jump in the moat around the lion area.

My thoughts and well-wishes are with all who cared for this proud and marvelous king. He brought such enjoyment to all of us who visited, volunteered and worked at the zoo.

I feel so unbelievably blessed to have been able to attend last Saturday's Breakfast With The Cats at the zoo where the speaker was interrupted four or five times by the resounding roar of Adelor. It was as though he could not wait for his individual story to be told - the story we are now reading in his memory.

Adelor you will be so very missed.


Once when I went and I looked up at the glass, every time he would pass he would wink at me and I would wink back. That made me feel so happy because he knew how I felt about him. I liked him and I wanted to see him all the time. I felt very sad when he died because I wanted to see him every time, but now that can't happen.

Adelor will be missed dearly. My husband and I held our wedding reception at Lincoln Park Zoo - in the Lion House. We always like to tell people that Adelor and Myra stood up for us. And they did so beautifully and majestically. The Zoo just will not be the same without him. Deepest sympathies to Adelor's caretakers and the entire Lincoln Park Zoo family. Take special care of Myra these days, please.

His first day on exhibit was my first day as a volunteer at the gate house. I can't stop crying. I loved him so much!

My mother was an employee of the zoo for many years so I essentially grew up in the zoo. After preschool she would pick me up and bring me straight to the work with her. I can remember watching Adelor and being so astounded by how beautiful he was. He was a friend to me for many many years and Although I have lived in a different state for the last few years I will always remember and cherish my good friend.

Goodbye Adelor and best to his sweet Myra. She will miss his cat naps with such a handsome guy.

First stop at the LPZ--the tiger, then the lions, then the gibbons...all favorites forever. January was such a lovely month to enjoy the big cats. I last saw them on January 6.

Thanks for all the memories and to the LPZ staff for taking such good care of these wonderous animals! The last photos from me:

Thanks for sharing those beautiful photos.

I am going to miss Adelor so much! He was a great lion, and may he rest in peace. Quick story...when my girlfriend and I started dating, I had to tell her my affinity for Adelor and how regal he was!

For my birthday that year, we went to the zoo and visited the lion house in winter. My girlfriend surprised me with a gift in front of the lion indoor enclosure--a Lincoln Park Zoo adopt-an-animal package for the African Lion! Of course that was for Adelor, but there was no sign of him. We asked a zoo volunteer who didn't know where Adelor was. A few seconds later, Adelor strolls into the indoor enclosure, almost on cue!!! It's was like Adelor was saying Happy Birthday to me!

The zoo just will never be the same without Adelor perched on his rock, as king. But now he's in a better place, and making others smile like he did for so many of us! We'll miss you Adelor.


He is Roaring up in Heaven now. Goodbye Big Boy!!!!!!! :-(

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