The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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Longtime lion caregiver Anne Howard passes away

Courtesy of UNA

On Jan. 22, the University of North Alabama announced the passing of Annemarie Howard, the caregiver of Leo III and a dear friend of the university. 

Born in 1949, Mrs. Howard became the primary caretaker for Leo III and his sister Una in 2002, when her husband, Dr. Dan Howard, traveled to New Hampshire with UNA administrators to bring the lions back to campus. Dr. and Mrs. Howard kept the cubs at their house for the first part of their time here, as they required constant attention and feeding. 

“It was love at first sight,” said Mrs. Howard in an interview for ‘Alabama Journey’ in 2014. “I’ve known them since they were six weeks old. My husband, G. Daniel, a retired UNA vice president, asked me one night over dinner what my thoughts were on keeping lions in our house. I said, ‘Sure, and we can have an elephant in the garage.’ I thought he was kidding. They ended up living with us for three months because I had to bottle-feed them every three hours.” 

Mrs. Howard’s love for the lions was apparent to everyone who saw her interacting with them, as visitors could often spot her sitting outside of their habitat to keep them company. They were well cared for under her constant supervision, and that care continues through the aid of her team of volunteers. 

“Anne – or Mrs. Anne as she was affectionately known – has been a fixture in the George H. Carroll Lion Habitat since Leo III and his twin sister, Una, were cubs, facilitating their arrival to campus and their constant care and oversight,” said the university in a statement about Mrs. Howard’s passing. “In recent years, and after the passing of her husband in 2022, former Vice President for University Advancement Dr. Dan Howard, she has worked with volunteers and local veterinarians to ensure Leo III’s ongoing health and vitality. Leo III is doing well, and his care continues to be overseen by volunteers. The campus community mourns her passing.” 

Many students, faculty and staff, as well as alumni and those from the surrounding community, used the comments on UNA’s Facebook post to recollect their fondest memories of Mrs. Howard, often remembering just how much she loved the lions and how visible that love was through her care for them. Mrs. Howard’s kindness and service to the university and its visitors will surely never be forgotten. 

“It is difficult to quantify the contribution Mrs. Anne Howard made to the University of North Alabama through her volunteer service with Leo III and Una,” said UNA President Dr. Ken Kitts. “Her presence at the George H. Carroll Lion Habitat was an outward signal that she was where she wanted and needed to be as Leo III’s long-time caregiver. She will be missed. Dena and I join the campus community in mourning her passing.”

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Kelley Peters
Kelley Peters, Managing Editor
Kelley is a junior from Tupelo, Miss. who is majoring in English literature with a minor in applied linguistics. She is currently Managing Editor for The Flor-Ala. She has loved reading for as long as she can remember, which developed her love of storytelling and the English language. Her career goal is to become an English professor at a university. She was previously a volunteer writer in the Fall of 2021, became a Staff Writer in January of 2022 and moved to being News Editor in January of 2023.

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