A female African lion killed her long-time mate and father of her three kids early in the week at the Indianapolis Zoo, officials said.
Zookeepers heard an “unusually booming” rushing to the lion area to see Zuri fighting 10-year-old Nyack near leaning sukari, according to officials.
Zookeepers tried vain to break up adults, but Zuri clutched their jaws on Nyack’s neck.
“Zoo staff did their utmost to distinguish the lion, but Zuri held Nyack at his neck until he stopped moving,” said a statement.
Nyack died of suffocation from neck injury.
Zuri gave birth to three young fathers of Nyack 201
5. They lived together for eight years, according to officials. There was no previous aggression between the animals.
Zuri and the kids – Sukari and the men Mushaka and Enzi – were not injured in the match.
“Detailed daily logs maintained by animal welfare staff did not report any unusual aggression, injury or wounds between Zuri and Nyack before Monday’s event,” said the statement of the zoo.
“We do not know what the forerunner of the match was,” as curator David Hagen told WIBC TV. “They had been together for eight years, and during that time it had been really good together. The staff are devastated by the loss,” he added. “He was a friendly playful lion.”
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Such a Facebook post said that Nyack “was a magnificent lion and he will be very missed”.
He is described on the zoo’s website as “very vocal and relaxed”, while Zuri is described as a “protective mother”.
There was an outbreak of grief and support for keeper over the death of the big cat, clearly a favorite of the zoo visitors. Several Facebook comments were published by people who cared for Nyack as a cub in San Diego. He was lending to the Indianapolis Zoo from California.