Dallas Zoo officials reported that one of its female lions died Sunday after being attacked by two male lions as zoo patrons watched in confusion, thinking that the lions were playing, until the female lion lay motionless under one of the large males. An investigation by official will begin today in search of what caused the events that led to the lions tragic death. Johari was a part of the zoo’s Giants of the Savannah exhibit. The exhibit, which had its grand opening in 2010, boasted two male lions and three female lions prior to the loss of Johari. Dallas Zoo is heartbroken, and a queen is dead.
The lions have been together in the Dallas Zoo exhibit for three years prior to this incident. The male lions, Denari and Kamaia attacked and killed the five year old lioness in what zoo patrons described as something resembling play fighting. According to witnesses, one of the male lions grabbed Johari by the throat in what appeared to be rough play, and the other male “went in for the kill.” Michael Henshaw, one of the several witnesses said, “You just stand there and can’t believe what’s happening. Are they playing with each other or killing each other?” Zoo official also stated that while there had been some rough play over the years, nothing significantly out of the ordinary would have led them to believe that this was possible. In the aftermath of the attack officials say there were no other visible marks other than where one of the males had Johari by the throat. Dallas Zoo is attempting to piece these accounts together in order to figure out just how a regal queen of a lioness was attacked and left dead at the hand of lions which shared the exhibit side by side for years together.
Another witness to the events, Dylan Parker recalled, “All of a sudden, they were just going at it non-stop.” According to Parker, it was not a shot quick death. He recounts that at one point it appeared that the male who instigated the even seemed to lose interest in the attack. He then stated that the smaller male decided he wanted to join in, and Johari found herself in the deadly jaws of the second male for about 10 minutes until she lay motionless under the male lion. The lion attack leaves many patrons stunned, along with many zoo officials saddened. Perhaps it is because it happened in an enclosed environment, where zoo patrons and handlers alike are not used to witnessing such violence between animals that have shared living quarters for so long. In the wild however, scuffles between lions is not such a rare occurrence.
So, the wild is no stranger to fights breaking out in the royal world of the lion and lioness. It is however not what an average zoo patron or little child expects to see when they go to an exhibit like the Giants of the Savannah. The investigation is underway and Zoo officials will be trying to figure out what caused the infighting in this “royal family.” Sadly however, as the week begins, the Dallas Zoo and its patrons mourn, and a queen (Johari) is dead .
By Daniel Worku