Loving Pair of Ailing Elderly Lions Put Down Together So They Don't Have To Live Alone Without Each Other

Loving Pair of Ailing Elderly Lions Put Down Together So They Don't Have To Live Alone Without Each Other

The 21-year-old pair of African lions who never had cubs together outlived their normal lifespan of 14 to 17 years.

Till death did them part... A pair of 21-year-old zoo lions had to be put down together due to their declining health. The two African lions, named Hubert and Kalisa, lived at the Los Angeles Zoo for the last six years of their lives and were constantly by each other's side. The long-time companions were already considered elderly by the time they had moved from the Woodland Park Zoo to Los Angeles in 2014. In the wild African lions live to their mid-teens and in zoos, their average life expectancy is about 17 years but this couple lived a long life. 


Zoo officials announced that they had made the "difficult decision" to humanely euthanize the pair because of "age-related illnesses that diminished their quality of life," reports PEOPLE. "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 at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo on February 7, 1999, while Kalisa was born on December 26, 1998, at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo. The two met at the latter and were moved to Los Angeles in 2014. While Hubert has fathered 10 cubs in his lifetime, he and his companion Kalisa never had cubs together. Nevertheless, they were inseparable. "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."


According to Los Angeles Times, animal programs director Beth Schaefer said,  “These lions were charismatic both together as partners and separately, but they were hardly ever apart from one another,” she said. “Their undivided attention was always on the other as they rested together, cuddled and nuzzled often.”


Following their heartbreaking deaths, the zoo asked followers on Instagram to share memories of the two majestic creatures in their honor. One zoo-goer wrote, "I remember being so excited when they were vocal on member’s morning. I’ll miss hearing that so much. 😭." Another added, "They were always together & now they can continue to be together forever," while a third 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 😢😭." African lions are vulnerable in the wild due to the depletion of prey as well as the illegal trade of lion body parts for traditional medicine and other uses. It is believed that that there are fewer than 25,000 lions living in Africa.