The lions in Dallas Zoo lived together peacefully for years, until one unnamed male lion attacked one of the females, Johari. According to CBS, “Zoo officials say Johari’s cause of death was suffocation. She had been a part of the exhibit since its grand opening in 2010.”

The event is tragic, and the likelihood of such an occurrence in the wild is very rare. International Business Times states that, “Lions are the only social felines. While aggressive animals, they rarely attack animals of their own pride.”

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This story comes in the wake of many other captive animal incidents. Deaths at SeaWorld and the recent fatal accident of a keeper in a Missouri zoo serve as sad examples of humans interacting with captive wild animals. The ideal function of a zoo would be to promote conservation of animals and release them back into the wild. However, the idea of zoos as entertainment rather than education or preservation is even engrained in our language. CBS refers to the animal’s enclosure as an “exhibit,” which is defined as a work of art. Animals in zoos are held captive, used for entertainment under the guise of education.

BBC news reports that the zoo is keeping the male lions separate from the females during the investigation, and has no plans to put down the offending lion. They are asking those who witnessed the attack to speak to the zoo since no zookeepers were around to witness the attack.

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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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons