Leo the African lion, who graced the grounds at Tyler's Caldwell Zoo for nearly 22 years, has died.

The Tyler Morning Telegraph reported Leo died because of cancer found in his chest and liver. He died a month before his 22nd birthday.

“Leo was an extremely impressive male lion,” Caldwell Zoo's curator of mammals Scotty Stainback told the newspaper. “He was real protective of the female lions in the enclosure. He weighed 400 pounds in his heyday and had a great disposition.”

Leo was born and raised at Caldwell Zoo, and spent most of his time in his habitat with his mother and aunt. The average life span of an African lion is just under 17 years, and Leo almost made it 22.

“Lions in general are one of the most iconic animals in the world. You see them used on lots of emblems and lots of materials and stuff and Leo fit that. Leo was very iconic. He was very iconic for the Caldwell Zoo and it's a great loss for us and a great loss for our community and those that knew him,” Stainback told KLTV.

All of us here have spent many days at Caldwell Zoo, seeing Leo every time. Our hearts go out to the entire Caldwell community.