Roaring Love: Elderly Lion Couple Put to Sleep at Same Time So Neither Has to Live Alone
The loving nuzzles and nudges that warmed everyone’s hearts have come to an end.
Two weeks ago, the staff at Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens announced the difficult decision to euthanize their 21-year-old African lion couple, Hubert and Kalisa.  The pair had been together for six years since they were brought to the zoo in 2014. They were 15-year-olds when they arrived and since lions in captivity have a life expectancy of 15 to 17 years, they were expected to pass on soon after their arrival. However, they found each other and formed an instant bond, never separating for the next six years.
At 21, Hubert and Kalisa had far exceeded their life expectancy, but were battling with several age-related health problems that reduced their quality of life. If they were allowed to die naturally, one may go before the other and the heartbreak would be almost unbearable, and so the management decided to push them into the afterlife together.
“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,” said CEO & Zoo Director Denise Verret to the L.A Times.  “These affectionate companions came to the L.A. Zoo six years ago, and they quickly charmed themselves into our hearts as we observed their magnificent beauty and unique bond. 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.”
Kalisa was born at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle while her soulmate, Hubert, came to L.A from the Lincoln Park zoo in Chicago.
CEO Verret said. “These lions were charismatic both together as partners and separately, but they were hardly ever apart from one another. Their undivided attention was always on the other as they rested together, cuddled and nuzzled often.”
She also expressed her gratitude to the zoo’s staff and health care unit for taking great care of the animals. They were loved, nurtured, and so well-treated that they lived far longer than most lions in captivity or the wild ever would.
The entire zoo community – staff and visitors – are presently mourning the loss of the enchanting couple who lit up their world for six years. As mentioned on Facebook by the zoo, they do not have plans to replace the lions yet.
“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,” said Alisa Behar, the zoo’s animal curator. “You cannot think of Hubert without thinking of his companion, Kalisa; they’ve been an inseparable couple for years.”
Their love lives on
When L.A. zoo posted about the death of their sweet favorites, hundreds of visitors who had encountered them at the zoo flooded the comment section with beautiful pictures of the inseparable pair. Their memory would always be a part of the zoo’s legacy.
A few touching comments read: “This is so sad. My son loves these beautiful cats more than you know. On my son’s 6th birthday he was talking to them from the fence and we swear Hubert was listening and roared to him. I told my son “he just said happy birthday to you”! A memory my son will never forget.”
“Beauties. I’m sure it was the right decision. I had to make the same decision for my own 21-year-old kitty. It still hurts to think about it. My heart goes out to the staff who cared for these two magnificent animals.”
“It was always a treat to see them interacting with one another. I’m so sad that they are gone, but happy knowing they went together💔.”
Although the numbers may differ according to location and underlying health issues, the life expectancy of lions in captivity may be as long as 30 years, against the average 15 years for lions in the wild.
Where lions in captivity experience no fights with predators, zero hunger, and have access to great health care, wild lions have to spend their entire lives fighting, struggling, starving when the seasons change, and surviving illnesses on their own.
- ” ‘Inseparable’ elderly lions Hubert and Kalisa are put down together at LA Zoo so that neither has to live alone after age-related illnesses saw the 21-year-old companions suffer ‘rapid decline in heath’.” People. Benjamin VanHoose. Retrieved August 10, 2020.
- “Hubert and Kalisa, longtime African lion partners at the L.A. Zoo, are euthanized.” L.A. Times. Alejandra Reyes-Velarde. Retrieved August 10, 2020.