Una, the beloved live lion mascot of the University of North Alabama, has passed away. She was 17 years old.
Una was one of the school’s two lion mascots. She and her brother Leo were brought to the school from New Hampshire in 2003, a year after being born. She was the first female lion to serve as a school mascot.
“All of us at UNA are saddened by Una’s passing,” school president Ken Kitts said in the school’s release about the unfortunate news. “She and her brother, Leo, are part of the UNA family, and we mourn her death. 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.”
According to the school, Una passed after a brief battle with an unspecified illness. Leo is reportedly in good health, and will continue to serve as the school’s mascot. He is the third in the line of Leos at UNA, dating back to 1974.
— Jeremy Jackson (@JeremyJacksonAL) June 30, 2020
North Alabama sponsors 14 Lions teams. The school recently moved up to Division I athletics, after a successful run as a Division II school.
The Lions are members of the Atlantic Sun conference, with the FCS-level football program playing in the Big South. The program went 7-3 as an FCS Independent in 2018, its first year at the level. The Lions dropped down to 4-7 as members of the Big South next year.
This year, the team has a September trip to Virginia Tech, its first game against an FBS opponent as a Division I program. The team faces BYU later in the season.