San Francisco Zoo officials are mourning the recent death of their male African lion Jahari, who was the patriarch of his group.
The zoo announced Wednesday that 16-year-old lion Jahari died two days earlier.
"Jahari was a favorite among guests and staff alike and truly was a magnificent ambassador of his species," said Tanya Peterson, the San Francisco Zoological Society's CEO and executive director.
Jahari was born at the zoo in 2003 to his lion parents, who were originally from South Africa.
"After he was born, his mother passed away, and he was lovingly hand-reared alongside his sibling. Throughout the years we watched him grow, mature and have family of his own. We will always remember his bellowing roar, heard from every corner of the zoo. It's a tremendous loss and we are heartbroken," Peterson said.
Jahari was raised in the zoo's Cat Kingdom, and eventually he and his mate Sukari had a male cub, Jasiri. Throughout the years, as Jahari aged, zoo staff had to make an effort to accommodate his increasingly limited mobility.
Zoo officials said they pride themselves on providing preventative and aged animal care, which they say is proved by the longevity of some of their oldest animal residents, many of which have surpassed the life-expectancy of their wildlife counterparts.