AURORA, Ill. — A beloved 18-year-old old cougar at the Aurora zoo died this week.

According to the Phillips Park Zoo, Tonka succumbed to complications from arthritis brought on by his advanced age.

The zoo said Tonka had been receiving treatment for some time, but his escalating condition caused a quick decline in his quality of life.

Tonka came to Phillips Park Zoo as a cub in the spring of 2005. He brought joy and education to thousands of children and families.

“I loved that cat,” said Aurora resident Eric Solfisburg. “My kids grew up with him. We saw him on many zoo walks with them.”

The zoo said he played a significant role in helping to educate students about the importance of conservation initiatives and the natural history of these cats.