Following the death of 17-year-old lioness Akeley at Birmingham Zoo earlier this week, zoo spokeswoman Jennifer Ogilvy said there are no current plans to remove the male lion, Josh, from the natural habitat that attacked her.
“For now, we are focused on allowing our employees to mourn the loss of Achille and will not be discussing future plans for some time,” Ogilvy said.
“In the meantime, Josh will remain here at the zoo and will receive the same great care as always. He will be outside as usual, with access to the building when needed. We have no immediate plans to make any changes.”
Achille died on Monday afternoon after being attacked by Josh, the lion who was supposed to be Achille’s new companion after the death of her former companion Kwanzaa in 2021.
While it appears that lions kill lionesses on a regular basis in the wild, male lions usually kill lionesses of neighboring prides to reduce competition for habitat, said Dr. Craig Packer, director of the University of Minnesota’s Lion Research Center.
Josh arrived at the zoo in April and zoo keepers took small steps to begin an introduction to the two lions that were going well, according to zoo staff. But things changed once the lions met face to face for the first time.
The zoo was greeted with anger and grief from the public after Akeley’s death was announced in a Facebook post on Tuesday morning.
While some on social media are calling for Josh to be punished, annual member David Carpenter said it was unfair to blame the animal for his actions.
“I’m sure he had no idea what he was doing. Despite all we know he was very scared himself,” said Carpenter, who was a circuit judge in the Bessemer section of Jefferson County. “.
While Carpenter doesn’t want to blame Josh for the accident, he said keeping Josh in the lion’s habitat could cause inconvenience to future zoo visitors.
“As a longtime zoo member, I find it very difficult to visit the zoo and enjoy seeing him (Josh) know he killed Achille,” Carpenter said.
“So, I hope they can move him to another zoo where they can appreciate him without knowing his background.”
The incident also gained national attention as Tiger King’s Carol Baskin commented on Netflix in an interview with CBS-42’s Lee Hedgepeth on Wednesday.
In the wild, male lions dominate the pride with lethal force; the males and cubs are killed in order to do so,” Baskin told the news station. Females may fight to the death to try to prevent this. Any time a person tries to play the role of God, it never ends well. “
Birmingham Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is due to be reviewed in August for renewal of accreditation.
AZA representatives did not respond to requests for comment until Thursday.
Achille has been a fan favorite of the Birmingham Zoo since moving from Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2007 when she was transferred as a Kwanzaa playmate. In 2011, the couple produced five cubs: Barron, Vulcan, Asha, Kimba, and Lily, who split between the Montgomery Zoo and a safari in Mexico.