Female Lion at Chicago-Area Zoo Dies Less Than 2 Weeks After Mate
AnimalVictor Westerkamp

An Illinois zoo is grieving after two of its lions died less than two weeks apart.

Brookfield Zoo’s female African lion, Isis, was euthanized on Tuesday after staff found the animal laying on the floor of a moat in its enclosure. They believe the 14-year-old lion fell and “sustained significant injuries” as a result, the Chicago Zoological Society said in a statement.

“Despite the immediate and intensive treatment provided by the veterinary staff, Isis sustained significant injuries and the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize her today,” the non-profit said.

The death comes less than two weeks after a 13-year-old male African lion, Zenda, was euthanized “due to age-related issues that impacted his quality of life.” Zenda and Isis were mates, the zoological society said.

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The Chicago Zoological Society staff is devastated to announce the sudden loss of our female African lion, Isis. Her death comes less than two weeks after the loss of her mate Zenda, Brookfield Zoo’s male African lion, who was euthanized due to age-related issues that impacted his quality of life. Animal care staff checked on 14-year-old Isis in her outdoor habitat yesterday morning shortly after 9:00 a.m. and all appeared normal. However, upon revisiting the habitat a short time later, she was observed laying on the floor of the moat. Although not witnessed, it appears that Isis fell and was injured. Despite the immediate and intensive treatment provided by the veterinary staff, Isis sustained significant injuries and the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize her today. The safety and well-being of the animals in our care is our utmost priority. Although it is unclear what caused her fall, we are reviewing all aspects of this tragic occurrence. Both Isis and Zenda arrived at Brookfield Zoo in May 2008. They could often be seen grooming one another and sleeping together. Isis and Zenda were majestic animals who had a strong bond. The animal care staff, who dedicated their lives to care for these charismatic lions, are heartbroken by their loss. #BrookfieldZoo

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Bill Zeigler, the Chicago Zoological Society’s senior vice president of animal programs, told USA Today the loss was “devastating” to the zoo and its staff. “Our staff developed very strong bonds with all the animals we maintain, so it’s been very hard on them.”

Zenda and Isis arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2008 and shared a strong emotional bond. They were often seen grooming each other or sleeping together.

“Isis and her mate were majestic animals who had a strong bond. The staff, who dedicated their lives to care for these charismatic lions, are heartbroken by their loss,” added Zeigler.

Zoo staff checked on Isis around 9:00 am on Monday and she was fine. But about 30 minutes later, they found her at the bottom of the mote in her enclosure, where they believe she fell some 15 feet and sustained injuries. Isis was euthanized on Tuesday.

Zenda and Isis were the zoos only lions, reported USA Today, but Brookfield is expecting to get two new male lions.

“This habitat has held large cats since 1934, and this is the first time we’ve experienced a traumatic injury like this from an animal going into the moat,” Zeigler told the newspaper. “We are looking at the habitat, and whether there will be modifications made will be determined.”

“The safety and well-being of the animals in our care is our utmost priority,” Bill Zeigler said. “Although it is unclear what caused her fall, we are reviewing all aspects of this tragic occurrence.”