Los Angeles Zoo's aged African lion couple euthanized

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two African lions that were inseparable companions at the Los Angeles Zoo were euthanized Thursday due to declining health and age-related illness, officials said.

The male, Hubert, and female, Kalisa, were both 21 years old and had lived at the LA Zoo for six years.

The zoo said in a statement that the lions' quality of life had diminished.

Alisa Behar, curator of mammals, said it was a hard loss for the 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," she said.

Behar said the pair lived longer than most lions do.

The average life expectancy for African lions in the wild is the mid-teens and 17 years in zoos.

Hubert was born Feb. 7, 1999, at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Kalisa was born Dec. 26, 1998, at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, where she and Hubert were introduced. They were moved to the Los Angeles Zoo in 2014.

Hubert fathered 10 cubs over his lifetime but never with Kalisa.

According to the zoo, African lions are native to regions from south of the Sahara Desert to South Africa. The declining wild population is estimated at 23,000-39,000 and is considered vulnerable.