Keenai had been a resident of the zoo since Dec. 8, 2008, along with his lifelong mate, Kaja. Over the 13 years at the zoo in Thompson Park, the pair littered 30 pups, including one, Luna, who still resides at the zoo, with the other pups housed at various zoos across the country.
In a statement, zoo officials said that Keenai had been closely observed this year and receiving pain medication as he had begun to show signs of old age at 14 years and eight months. In the wild, a gray wolf’s lifespan is between six and eight years.
“Keenai will be greatly missed by all, especially those guests that had the chance to hear the ‘howling ballads’ by him, Kaja and Luna while at the Zoo,” Larry Sorel, zoo CEO and executive director, said in a statement. “His life was symbolic of our great conservation efforts, as well as the amazing work of the zookeepers here. We are proud to have had him in our care.”
The cause of Keenai’s death was age-related kidney failure, according to the zoo. Kaja died of cancer in March 2020 at age 15.