Maria Weinberg is missing her big baby.
The Annapolis Valley zookeeper is one of many people mourning the loss of Obi, one of the African lions residing at Oaklawn Farm Zoo.
Obi, whose name means “heart,” died Aug. 6 after fighting a brave battle with illness for nearly two years.
The well-loved lion died as a result of serious kidney problems that staff at the zoo knew were terminal.
“I raised him from the time he was a cub. When we got him, he was four weeks old,” Weinberg said. “We get very attached to all our animals, since we work with them daily. It was very rough when Obi was diagnosed with kidney failure (in Oct. 2017).”
The diagnosing vets didn’t give Obi long to live at first, but he persevered and exceeded expectations.
Obi is remembered for his kind and easy-going disposition, something people noticed in him since he was a cub.
“He loved getting his mane groomed every morning. He’d come right up to get treats. Spending time with him would be no different than spending time with your own pets,” Weinberg said. “You develop a bond with them and they become part of your family. He was part of my family and I just treated him like that. I’d spend as much time as I could with him, like I do with the other lions. He was just a kind soul.”
Gail Rogerson, co-owner of Oaklawn Farm Zoo, said Obi was been under the care of a veterinarian due to his health problem for the last couple of years.
“He’s had problems with his internal organs, and he reached the point of no return. We knew it was time,” Rogerson said.
Obi was surrounded by his zoo family when he was humanely euthanized by a veterinarian.
“He lost weight and wasn’t eating. Those are signs. We didn’t want to see him suffer any longer,” Rogerson said. “Up to three weeks ago, he was doing very well for the problems he had.”
Obi’s departure from the world of the living didn’t go unnoticed. Along with the staff and guests at Oaklawn, an outpouring of grief and sympathy has come from Kings County – and beyond.
One need look no further than the comments on Oaklawn’s Facebook Page, and the cascade of activity there, to see how much Obi is missed.
By the time of publication, the post announcing Obi’s passing had garnered thousands of comments and shares on social media.
“He’s definitely going to be greatly missed,” Weinberg said. “It’s very nice to see people showing support like that, recognizing that our animals are well taken care of and well-loved.”
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