A lioness named Akili was killed by a male lion when they were introduced to each other at the Birmingham Zoo.

Source: CBS 42/Youtube

The Birmingham Zoo reportedly introduced the male lion, Josh, to Akili in hopes that the animals could become companions after the death of the lioness’ former partner.

On Facebook, the Birmingham Zoo said that their staff is mourning the loss of the beloved African lioness. Akili was born in 2005 at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She was moved to Birmingham Zoo in 2007 to mate with African Lion Kwanza, and they had five cubs in 2011.

“When Kwanza died in 2021 we worked with the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) to identify a new male companion for Akili. Josh arrived in April and the slow, careful process of introductions began.”

However, the animal introduction did not go as anyone anticipated.

“Animal introductions are always risky because wild animals can be unpredictable and we cannot control their interactions,” explains Hollie Colahan, Birmingham Zoo’s Deputy Director and coordinator of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Lion SSP.

“Unfortunately, Akili sustained serious injuries within the first few minutes of the meeting and despite immediate intervention by the Animal Care and Animal Health teams, she succumbed to her injuries and died Monday afternoon.”

“The loss of an animal is always sad but when it is sudden and unexpected, that makes it particularly difficult,” said Chris Pfefferkorn, Birmingham Zoo President, and CEO.

“Please keep the amazing team and everyone that worked with Akili in your thoughts as there are no words that can ease the pain of such a spontaneous loss. We are thankful that so many in the community had a chance to see and experience Akili, she was a great ambassador for her wild counterparts.”

Lions are social animals, but this is not the first time lions have attacked each other while in captivity. Being stuck in a small cage and used for entertainment can cause aggression in animals and lead to devastating events like this. Akili was born in captivity and died in captivity as a prisoner for profit. We can only hope that someday soon, the U.S. can take a page out of Costa Rica’s book and shut down zoos nationwide.

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