An elderly lion couple in Los Angeles Zoo has been euthanized together, so neither of them would have to live alone.
Soulmates Hubert and Kalisa were both put to sleep 'due to their declining health and age-related illnesses that had diminished their quality of life' after six years of being completely inseparable from one another.
Hubert was born at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, and Kalisa came from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. They met after being moved to Los Angeles Zoo in 2014. Since then, they had been absolutely inseparable from each other.
LA Zoo spokesperson Beth Schaefer said that Hubert and Kalisa had a strong and deep relationship with each other that was obvious to both visitors and staff.
"These lions were charismatic both together as partners and separately, but they were hardly ever apart from one another," Schaefer said.
According to Schaefer, the couple's attention was always on the other as they slept together, cuddled, and nuzzled often.
"We have been touched by the community who have shared their fond memories of Hubert and Kalisa with us on social media. The pair's love for one another created a deeper connection with our guests and incredible empathy, which we have seen through the outpouring show of support from our guests."
CEO and zoo director Denise Verret said the couple 'are an iconic part of the Los Angeles Zoo experience,' and all the zoo's staff and guests 'have been touched by their loyal companionship.'
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.
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.
Verret finished her statement by thanking the animal care staff for looking after the lions, 'who lived longer than most lions do in human care and in the wild.'
Alisa Behar, who works as the zoo's animal curator, described Hubert and Kalisa's deaths as a 'very hard loss' for the zoo community.
'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,' she said.
'You cannot think of Hubert without thinking of his companion, Kalisa; they've been an inseparable couple for years.'
Lions living in captivity often reach the age of 15-17 years, so the loved-up couples had already exceeded their life expectancy by reaching the age of 21.
The life expectancy of a lion living in the wild goes between 12-16 years. One reason for the shorter lifespan is that lions in the wild have to watch out for predators. Although the biggest predator to lions is humans, these majestic creatures also have to watch out for hyenas and cheetahs, who might steal their food.
When they are out in the wild, lions don't have access to medical treatment, so if they cut or break their paw, they end up suffering from their injury. Lions in zoos, on the other hand, can get medical care whenever they need it.
Another factor is environmental issues. Lions in the wild rely only on nature to live, so if there's a drought, there will be no water or food supplies available for them. Captive lions, however, don't face any of these issues as their living space remains the same and zookeepers always provide them with plenty of food and water.
Rest peacefully, Hubert and Kalisa.