(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Nala, the African Lioness at the Erie Zoo, was euthanized on Sept. 12.

Nala was 24 years old. The average lifespan for African lions is 10-18 years old. She was one of the oldest African lions in the world at the time of her death, the zoo reported.

“Our veterinary and animal care teams have done an extraordinary job caring for Nala, especially as she began showing irreversible symptoms related to her age,” said Roo Kojancie, chief operations officer. “With all of the animals here at the zoo, we make a commitment to provide them with the highest quality of life from the moment they come to us until it’s their time to go. It is because of this dedicated and meticulous care that a significant population of them far surpass their median life expectancy. We feel privileged to have been able to share a lifetime with Nala and it is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye. She will be missed dearly by us and many in our community.”

Nala arrived at the zoo in October 1998. According to an Erie Zoo Facebook post, “she (had) been affectionately dubbed the ‘Queen of the Erie Zoo’ in reference to her tendency to do things on ‘Nala time’ rather than her keepers.'”

She was a part of more than two decades of Erie Zoo history including the debut of the John M. and Gertrude E. Petersen African Lion exhibit in 2018. Nala survived her mate, former Erie Zoo resident Simba (1994-2008), and her three offspring Zuri (2000-2015), Zaki (2000-2020) and Erie Zoo lioness Jala (2000-2017).

According to the zoo, Nala suffered from age-related issues that are common to the cat species, including kidney failure, arthritis and muscle loss. She was monitored daily by her animal care and veterinary teams. This weekend, the zoo said Nala’s care team “made observations that indicated her quality of life was diminishing rapidly.”