The 21-year-old pair of African lions never had cubs together despite their long-time coupling

By Benjamin VanHoose
July 31, 2020 01:00 PM
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Jamie Pham/Courtesy of the Los Angeles Zoo

A loving pair of zoo lions were both euthanized due to declining health.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Zoo announced that its team made the "difficult decision" to humanely euthanize two African lions, named Hubert and Kalisa, because of "age-related illnesses that diminished their quality of life." The 21-year-old animals lived at the zoo for the last six years of their lives.

"Hubert and Kalisa are an iconic part of the L.A. Zoo experience, and our staff and guests have been touched by their loyal companionship," Denise Verret, CEO and zoo director of the L.A. Zoo, said in a press release. "Their longevity is truly a testament to the level of expert care our veterinary and animal care teams provide for our elderly animals."

"These lions will remain a positive part of our history, and they will be greatly missed," Verret added.

Hubert was born in February 1999 at the Lincoln Park Zoo, and he has since fathered 10 cubs. Kalisa, his long-time companion, was born in December 1998, and the two were moved from the Woodland Park Zoo to Los Angeles in 2014.

Though Hubert and Kalisa were long-time companions, they never had cubs together.

Jamie Pham/Courtesy of the Los Angeles Zoo

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"This is a very hard loss for our Zoo community," Alisa Behar, curator of mammals at the L.A. Zoo, said in a press release. "In the early mornings, staff would routinely hear Hubert’s waking roars, and I will personally miss hearing them on my walks around the grounds."

Behar said Hubert and Kalisa were inseparable, noting that the couple lived longer than most lions do in human care and in the wild. In zoos, the average life expectancy of an African lion is about 17 years, and in the wild, they live to their mid-teens.

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On Instagram, the zoo asked followers to share memories of the two animals in their honor. One commenter wrote, "I remember being so excited when they were vocal on member’s morning. I’ll miss hearing that so much. 😭."

Another zoo-goer commented, "They were always together & now they can continue to be together forever," while another added: "My heart is broken 💔 I'm so thankful I got the chance to see these two every time I visited the LA Zoo and to see how much they cared for another ❤ they will truly be missed 😢😭."