Ariel, one of the two ill Brazilian lions who sparked a wave of solidarity on the Internet, died in Sao Paulo from the degenerative autoimmune disease from which he was suffering, his caretaker announced Thursday.

"Everything was done for him. He will never suffer any more. We miss him a lot, but Ariel is going to live forever in our hearts," Raquel Borges, who along with her husband sees to caring for 14 animals, among them the 3-year-old feline, told reporters.

The illness from which Ariel suffered paralyzed all four of his legs, and the lion and his handlers had be transferred from his former home in the southern state of Parana, to Sao Paulo, where the animal was given more extensive medical care.

The most common treatment for humans in a case like this is to remove the blood from the body and separate the white and red blood cells from the plasma, before reinfusing the patient with plasma donated by other people.

The situation of Ariel and Simba, another sick lion in the western state of Mato Grosso do Sul who was transported by the air force to Brasilia for treatment, mobilized Brazilians on the online social networks to collect money and make the two lions into symbols of campaigns to help animals.

Both Ariel and Simba, who suffers from depression due to the loss of his companion in 2005, received donations for their treatment, and their communities of friends and supporters on Facebook, for example, exceeded 50,000 members.