DUDLEY Zoo's oldest lion has been peacefully put to sleep aged 17.

The zoo announced the death of lioness Asha and said 'she will be missed by all.'

The Asiatic lioness, who would have turned 18 next week, was "peacefully put to sleep" due to her declining health.

Asha outlived sister Kyra by 11 months, with the pair arriving at the zoo together in 2009.

It's hoped a new lioness can be brought in to keep Keshari, the four-year-old resident male company.

A statement on the zoo's Facebook page read: "We've got some sad news to bring you today, as our remaining lovely Asiatic lioness, Asha, has passed away.

"Asha, who would have turned 18 years-old next week, was peacefully put to sleep by the zoo's veterinary team, due to age-related declining health.

"She was much-loved and will be missed by us all here at DZC [Dudley Zoo and Castle].

"Asha came to live at DZC in 2009 alongside sister, Kyra, who she outlived by 11 months.

"Keshari, our resident four-year-old male, who joined us last summer, will remain in the paddock and we'll be working with the EEP studbook to bring in a new lioness in the near future."

More than 100 people have left messages of condolence and shared pictures of Asha on the post.

One said: "So sorry to hear this. Thankfully we got to see her one last time on Monday.

"Rest in peace beautiful Asha xxx."

Another said: "So very sorry for your sad loss.

"It must be heartbreaking for you all.

"We as a family have fond memories of your beautiful Asha and her sister.

"RIP gorgeous.

"Lots of love to all the staff."