Una, the beloved female mascot of the University of North Alabama (UNA), passed away peacefully Tuesday (June 30) morning after a brief illness at the George H. Carroll Lion Habitat on the UNA campus. Mascot Una was 17 years old.
“All of us at UNA are saddened by Una’s passing,” stated UNA President Ken Kitts. “She and her brother, Leo, are part of the UNA family, and we mourn Una’s death. We also are grateful for the many years she had represented the University of North Alabama 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 born in 2002 in New Hampshire. She and Leo moved into the George H. Carroll Habitat in 2003. Since arriving on campus, Una and Leo have represented the University as mascots, appearing at events early on in their tenure and celebrating birthdays with the community. Una is the first female African lion mascot for UNA; she joined her brother Leo III, who succeeded Leo I and Leo II.
Lioness “Una’s passing was peaceful, and her brother Leo and their caregivers were at her side,” stated Dr. Brandon Fisher, one of the two local veterinarians that give care for Una and Leo. “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.”
A memorial ceremony will be planned for Una following this year. Leo is expected to have a time of mourning his sister, and Anne and Dan Howard are expected to remain in place as his volunteer caregivers.
The University of North Alabama has a rich tradition of housing a live lion on campus since Leo I lived in his enclosure beginning in 1974. After Leo I passing in 1988, Leo II came to campus and was voted “Second Best Mascot” by Sports Illustrated in 1997. Leo II died in 2002. Leo III will continue in his service as UNA’s mascot. Una will be prominently highlighted as part of the University’s Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Year of the Woman beginning in 2021.