Female Lion Kills Father of Her Cubs in Fight at Indianapolis Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo says a lion has died in a fight with another lion.

The zoo said Friday that an adult female, Zuri, attacked 10-year-old male Nyack in their outdoor yard Monday before the zoo opened for the day.

The zoo says the two had been housed together for eight years and produced three cubs in 2015. Nyack was on loan from the San Diego Zoo.

It says staff heard an unusual amount of roaring from the yard and staff tried to separate the two but Zuri held Nyack by the neck until he stopped moving. A necropsy confirmed that Nyack died of suffocation from injuries to his neck.

The zoo said daily logs kept by staff showed no unusual aggression, injuries or wounds between the two.

The lions’ 3-year-old daughter, Sukari, was also in the yard at the time of the incident. The staff made every effort to separate the lions, but say Zuri held Nyack by the neck until he stopped moving, KTLA sister station WXIN in Indianapolis reported.

“It’s extremely devastating to the animal care team. They work with the animals on a daily basis, so not only are they sad by this tragic loss, but I know our visitors and members will also be sad,” said Indianapolis Zoo Curator David Hagan.

The zoo says both lions were part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which oversees population management of select species within Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) member institutions and enhances species conservation in the wild.

“A thorough review will be conducted to attempt to understand what might have led to this incident. There are no current plans to change how the lions are managed. Zuri will remain in her female pair group with her daughter Sukari,” the zoo said in a release. “We know many people loved visiting Nyack. He was a magnificent male lion and left his legacy in his three cubs. He will be missed by guests, members, volunteers and staff.”