Hubert and Kalisa kept each other going through old age. These lions will never again know a day apart from each other.
The couple spent the last 6 years together. That may not seem like a long relationship to humans, but it is for two lions expected to live anywhere from 15 to 17 years long. With each other’s companionship, Hubert and Kalisa reached 21 years old before the struggles of old age finally caught up with them.
“These lions were charismatic both together as partners and separately, but they were hardly ever apart from one another,” Beth Schaefer, a spokesperson for LA Zoo, told the Los Angeles Times. “Their undivided attention was always on the other as they rested together, cuddled and nuzzled often.”
Hubert and Kalisa were euthanized at the Los Angeles Zoo, simultaneously, so neither will have to bear the struggle of going on alone.
Hubert was born on Feb. 7, 1999, at the Lincoln Park Zoo, in Chicago, while Kalisa, born Dec. 26, 1998, once spent her days at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. The lions both came to the Los Angeles Zoo in 2014, Unilad reports.
CEO and zoo director Denise Verret called Hubert and Kalisa, “an iconic part of the Los Angeles Zoo experience.” She said staff at the zoo and countless guests saw the lions together day-in and day-out,
“These affectionate companions came to the LA Zoo six years ago, and they quickly charmed themselves into our hearts as we observed their magnificent beauty and unique bond,” Verret said. “It was often said, you don’t see Kalisa without Hubert being close by. So, while it is truly heart-wrenching that we had to say goodbye to this iconic pair, we can take comfort in knowing they left together. These lions will remain a positive part of our history, and they will be greatly missed.”
As CNN reports, there are an estimated 23,000 to 39,000 lions remaining in the wild, but that number is declining due to illegal poaching and habitat destruction. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species categorizes the African lion as “vulnerable” because of “human-wildlife conflict, prey depletion, the illegal trade of lion body parts for traditional medicine, trophy hunting, and disease.”
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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.