INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Zoo announced Friday a 10-year-old male lion died after being injured by a lioness, according to WXIN.
The male lion, Nyack, died Monday morning in the outdoor yard before the zoo had opened for the day.
Zoo officials say staff heard an unusual amount of roaring from the lion yard and saw one of the adult female lions, Zuri, being aggressive with Nyack.
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.
A necropsy, or animal version of an autopsy, was completed and confirmed Nyack's cause of death as suffocation from injuries to the neck.
“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.
Nyack had been on loan from the San Diego Zoo, and produced a litter of three cubs with Zuri in 2015. Nyack and Zuri had been housed together for eight years, and staff saw no indication that an event like this would happen. There were no prior instances of unusual aggression.
"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."