An Alabama-based zoo is mourning the sudden loss of one of its most popular animals.

The Birmingham Zoo, located in Birmingham, AL took to its social media accounts on Tuesday morning (July 19) to announce Akili's passing, the zoo's beloved African lioness.

As per the zoo's post, Akili was fatally injured on Monday afternoon, July 18th, during introductions to a fellow male lion; the staff, as imagined is reportedly devastated at this unexpected loss of a long-time favorite animal and member of its Zoo family.

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“Animal introductions are always risky because wild animals can be unpredictable and we cannot control their interactions,” explained Hollie Colahan, Birmingham Zoo’s Deputy Director and coordinator of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Lion SSP.

“Unfortunately, Akili sustained serious injuries within the first few minutes of the meeting and despite immediate intervention by the Animal Care and Animal Health teams, she succumbed to her injuries and died Monday afternoon.”

Akili's Connection To Colorado

The Birmingham Zoo's beloved lioness might've found a home in the deep south, but Akili had a home in Colorado long before.

In fact, the Alabama-based zoo says Akili was born in 2005 at Colorado's famous Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, down in Colorado Springs.

The late lioness made her way to the Birmingham Zoo two years later, in 2007 to live with African Lion Kwanza; in 2011, the two had 5 cubs.

The Birmingham zoo says Kwanza died in 2021, and at that point, zoo officials began working with the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) to identify a new male companion for Akili. Josh arrived in April and the slow, careful process of introductions began.

“The loss of an animal is always sad but when it is sudden and unexpected, that makes it  Birmingham Zoo President and CEO, Chris Pfefferkorn, as per the zoo's Facebook 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.”

R.I.P Akili.

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