BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Akili, a lioness at the Birmingham Zoo, died Monday afternoon after being injured by another lion. She was 17.

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According to zoo officials, Akili was fatally injured by another lion during an introductory meeting. The meeting was to help the zoo identify a new male companion for the lioness.

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

Akili was injured in the first few minutes of the meeting, according to the zoo. The attacking lion, Josh, had been brought to Birmingham in April in order to replace Kwanza, an African Lion who had been the male lion living at the zoo before passing away in 2021.

“The loss of an animal is always sad but when it is sudden and unexpected, that makes it particularly difficult,” Birmingham Zoo President and CEO Chris Pfefferkorn said. 

Akili came to Birmingham in 2007 and lived with Kwanza until his death. The two had five cubs together in 2011.