Lioness kills long-term mate, father of cubs at US zoo

A zoo in the United States is in mourning after its lioness abruptly killed its long-term mate.

African lion Zuri, 12, attacked 10-year-old Nyack, the father of her cubs, in their enclosure at Indianapolis Zoo this week.

Staff reported hearing "an unusual amount of roaring" and rushed to the lions' pen to find Zuri had grabbed Nyack around his neck.

Despite efforts to separate the pair, she kept her grip and suffocated him, holding him until he stopped moving. The zoo was not open at the time.

Zuri the African lion.
Twelve-year-old Zuri. Photo credit: Indianapolis Zoo

The two had shared a pen for eight years and had three cubs together in 2015. In a statement, the zoo said there had never been any noticeable aggression between them.

"We will conduct a thorough review to attempt to understand what may have led to this," the zoo said, adding that Zuri and the other three lions in the enclosure were all okay.

"Nyack was a magnificent lion and he will be greatly missed. We appreciate the support from our community as we cope with the loss."

The news has prompted an outpouring of grief on social media from those who knew or worked with the lion.

"I worked with Nyack as a cub. This is a horrible tragedy and my heart goes out to all of his keepers. He was a beautiful boy," zookeeper Noah Eye wrote on Twitter.

Newshub.

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