Una, University of North Alabama’s female mascot, passes away
Una, one of two live mascots of the University of North Alabama (UNA), passed away at the age of 17 on Tuesday morning after a brief illness.
A release from UNA advised that the female lion died “peacefully” at the George H. Carroll Lion Habitat on the UNA campus. A memorial will reportedly be planned for Una later this year.
“All of us at UNA are saddened by Una’s passing,” UNA President Ken Kitts said in a statement.
Una was born in 2002. She and Leo (her brother) moved into the university’s on-campus habitat in 2003. Since arriving on campus, the duo have represented UNA as mascots, appearing at events early on in their tenure and celebrating birthdays with the community.
Leo is expected to have a time of mourning for his sister, and Anne and Dan Howard are expected to remain in place as his volunteer caregivers.
“[Una] and her brother, Leo, are part of the UNA family, and we mourn her death,” Kitts continued. “We also are grateful for the many years she had representing the University as part of the lion mascot duo as well as to Anne and Dan Howard for the gracious care they have provided, and continue to provide, to our lions.”
Una was the first female African lion mascot for UNA; she joined her brother Leo III, who succeeded Leo I and Leo II.
“Una’s passing was peaceful, and her brother and caregivers were at her side,” explained Dr. Brandon Fisher, one of the two local veterinarians who provide care for the two lions. “It has been a remarkable part of my career to be able to care for Una since she was a cub, to watch her grow and to see her very distinctive personality develop.”
Leo will continue in his current service as UNA’s mascot. Una will reportedly be prominently featured as part of the university’s Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Year of the Woman beginning next year.
“Leo is in very good health for an African lion that is almost 18 years old,” added Dr. Matt Connolly. “We have done a full health assessment on him which did not reveal any abnormalities. We fully expect him to mourn his sister and will continue to monitor his appetite and activity closely during this time.”
UNA has a well-known tradition of housing a live lion on campus since Leo I lived in his enclosure beginning in 1974. After his passing in 1988, Leo II came to campus and was voted “Second Best Mascot” by Sports Illustrated in 1997. He died in 2002.
You can view UNA’s website dedicated to Una and Leo III here.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn