Within the span of two weeks, Brookfield Zoo in Illinois has lost both its African lions.
In a press release posted online, the zoo announced the death of its 14-year-old female lion Isis, who fell 15 feet into her enclosure's moat on Monday. Isis' death comes less than two weeks after her mate, 13-year-old Zenda, was euthanized for age-related issues on Jan. 2.
“Obviously it’s a devastating loss to us," Bill Zeigler, the Chicago Zoological Society's senior vice president of animal programs, told USA TODAY. "Our staff developed very strong bonds with all the animals we maintain, so it’s been very hard on them.”
Zoo staff checked on Isis at 9 a.m. Monday and all appeared well. About 30 minutes later, however, she was found lying on the floor of the moat.
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
A post shared by Brookfield Zoo (@brookfieldzoo) on Jan 14, 2020 at 3:17pm PST
According to Zeigler, Isis received immediate medical attention, and no major fractures were observed, though the lion did show signs of seizures, perhaps due to tissue swelling that put pressure on her vertebrae.
Isis received overnight treatment, but when her prognosis did not improve Tuesday, it was determined she would be euthanized.
Though Isis and Zenda were the zoo's only lions, Zeigler said they have plans to acquire two new male lions. There is no date set for their arrival.
Zeigler noted the zoo's lion enclosure meets all animal safety standards and that 15 feet is "not a very large drop for a large cat."
“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," he said. “We are looking at the habitat, and whether there will be modifications made will be determined.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brookfield Zoo in Chicago loses female lions two weeks after her mate