Photo by Jamie Pham

African lion pair Hubert and Kalisa.

The Los Angeles Zoo is sad to announce the death of our African lion pair, Hubert and Kalisa.

Animal care and health staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize the 21-year-old companions on July 30 due to their declining health and age-related illnesses that diminished their quality of life.

The beloved pair resided at the LA Zoo for the past six years.

“Hubert and Kalisa are an iconic part of the LA Zoo experience, and our staff and guests have been touched by their loyal companionship,” said Denise Verret, CEO & zoo director.

“Their longevity is truly a testament to the level of expert care our veterinary and animal care teams provide for our elderly animals. These lions will remain a positive part of our history, and they will be greatly missed.”

Hubert was born Feb. 7, 1999 at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Over the course of Hubert’s life, he fathered 10 cubs and met his long-time companion, Kalisa, a female African lion born Dec. 26, 1998, at the Woodland Park Zoo. In 2014, Hubert and Kalisa moved from the Woodland Park Zoo to the LA Zoo.

While the pair have been long-time companions, they never produced cubs together.

“This is a very hard loss for our Zoo community,” said Alisa Behar, curator of mammals at the LA Zoo. “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.

“You cannot think of Hubert without thinking of his companion, Kalisa; they’ve been an inseparable couple for years. I have to commend our animal care and veterinary staff for the great care they’ve given this pair, a couple who lived longer than most lions do in human care and the wild.”

The average life expectancy for African lions in the wild is mid-teens and about 17 years in Zoos. The African lion is native to the savannas, arid woodlands, and semi-desert regions from south of the Sahara Desert to South Africa.

With an estimated declining wild population of 23,000-39,000 lions, the IUCN Red List categorizes the African lion as vulnerable due to human-wildlife conflict, prey depletion, the illegal trade of lion body parts for traditional medicine, trophy hunting, and disease.