Alabama lioness killed by former San Antonio Zoo lion during introduction

‘Animal introductions are always risky,’ zoo said

The Birmingham Zoo. (Google Maps)

SAN ANTONIO – A lion formerly housed at the San Antonio Zoo fatally attacked a lioness at an Alabama zoo during an introduction earlier this week.

The Birmingham Zoo said Josh — named by Spurs legend Tony Parker after his son — unexpectedly injured Akili on Monday within minutes of meeting each other, according to a statement on social media.

Hollie Colahan, the Birmingham Zoo’s deputy director and coordinator of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Lion Species Survival Plan, said Akili succumbed to her injuries “despite immediate intervention.”

“Animal introductions are always risky because wild animals can be unpredictable and we cannot control their interactions,” Colahan said.

Josh left the San Antonio Zoo in April and was taken to the Birmingham Zoo as part of the Lion Species Survival Plan. They then began the “careful process of introductions,” according to the post.

Josh was supposed to be Akili’s companion after she lost her former companion, Kwanza, whom she had five cubs with. Kwanza died in 2021.

Akili was born in 2005 at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She was brought to the Alabama zoo in 2007.

“The loss of an animal is always sad but when it is sudden and unexpected, that makes it particularly difficult,” Chris Pfefferkorn, Birmingham Zoo president and CEO, said in the post. “Please keep the amazing team and everyone that worked with Akili in your thoughts as there are no words that can ease the pain of such a spontaneous loss. We are thankful that so many in the community had a chance to see and experience Akili, she was a great ambassador for her wild counterparts.”

In 2015, Parker won naming rights for the lion cub and his two siblings. He named them after his son, Josh, himself and his now-former wife.

The Birmingham Zoo will continue to care for Josh, according to the news website Bham Now.

Read also:


About the Author:

Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.