LUFKIN, Texas (KETK) – The Ellen Trout Zoo had to say goodbye to one of their animals on Tuesday.

Mashaka, an African Lion, died peacefully surrounded by his keepers. He was 16-years-old and born on June 13, 2006 at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas.

Mashaka was 1.5-years-old when he made it to the Ellen Trout Zoo, and he only had a mohawk as his mane.

“Zoo visitors witnessed his growth from an awkward adolescent to a magnificent adult male lion. He developed a dark mane and showed some of the characteristics of Atlas lions,” said the zoo.

Mashaka had two male cubs at the Ellen Trout Zoo and three gran-cubs that are at another zoo from his first offspring.

His second cub was snow-white and named Ashur. He gained popularity around the word, and his coat later turned tan. The cub is currently at the zoo with Mashaka’s mate Adia. 

Zoo keepers said Mashaka was a good dad, and he would spend time playing with his cub.

In September 2016, Mashaka got a vascular lesion on his spinal cord and this prevented him from getting up and moving. The lion was luckily able to recover and was reunited with his cub.

Mashaka still had some issues from his injury, but he was still able to enjoy the rest of his life, and he was loved by many zoo visitors.

Mashaka later started to suffer from other medical issues such as kidney and liver failure. A necropsy is going to be completed to confirm this diagnosis.

“His death has left a void in the hearts of those who took care of him and went to any extreme to give him the best care possible. He will be missed by his keepers and the thousands of guests who have visited him over his lifetime,” said the zoo.