A new male African lion at a zoo located in Alabama has mauled a female to death just seconds after the two were introduced to each other in the habitat.
In a Tuesday Facebook post, the Birmingham Zoo announced the incident. The male lion, which is named Josh, was brought into the zoo to give companionship for the lioness, named Akili, that the zoo already hosted. Akili’s original mate died back in 2021. However, almost as soon at the pair were introduced to each other, Josh launched at Akili and attacked her. As a result the lioness suffered injuries that ended up beint fatal for her.
“Birmingham Zoo is mourning the passing of beloved African lioness Akili,” explained the zoo in a release that they chose to post on their Facebook. “The lion was fatally injured on Monday afternoon, July 18th, during introductions to male lion Josh. The staff is devastated at this unexpected loss of a long-time favorite animal and member of the Zoo family.”
As expressed in the statement, Akili was born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, out in Colorado Springs back in 2005. Then in 2007, she made the move over to the Birmingham Zoo where she lived with a male lion named Kwanza. The apir became companions, which resulted in a litter of five cubs back in 2011. Kwanza died in 2021 and the zoo worked alongside the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Lion Species Survival Plan to discover a new mate for Akili. Josh was marked as a potentially suitable companion, and arrived at the zoon in April. From there, the gradual introduction between the pair of lions started.
“Animal introductions are always risky because wild animals can be unpredictable and we cannot control their interactions,” stated the Birmingham Zoo’s Deputy Director and coordinator of the Lion SSP, Hollie Colahan, in the Tuesday release. “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,” explained Chris Pfefferkorn, the President and CEO of the zoo. “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.”
It was reported by Newsweek that African lions are well known to be extremely territorial and will quickly become aggressive if they feel threatened. Male lions are also known to be aggressive when trying to assert dominance over others. Out in the wild, a male lion who takes over the pride of another lion will kill the cubs of the spurned male. Additionally, sexually frustrated males have been known to attack and kill females who refuse to breed in the wild.