A pair of lions that were seen as soulmates have been put to sleep together so they don’t have to experience the pain of living without each other.

The Los Angeles Zoo announced a few days ago that they’d made the decision to humanely euthanize Hubert and Kalisa — two 21-year-old lions who were a “couple” with a strong and affectionate bond.

The zoo shared this message and photo series on Facebook:

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the loss of our African lion pair, Hubert and Kalisa. Animal care and health staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize the 21-year-old lions today due to their declining health and age-related illnesses that had diminished their quality of life.”

“’Hubert and Kalisa are an iconic part of the L.A. Zoo experience, and our staff and guests have been touched by their loyal companionship,’ said CEO & Zoo Director Denise Verret. ‘These affectionate companions came to the L.A. Zoo six years ago, and they quickly charmed themselves into our hearts as we observed their magnificent beauty and unique bond. It was often said, you don’t see Kalisa without Hubert being close by. So, while it is truly heart-wrenching that we had to say goodbye to this iconic pair, we can take comfort in knowing they left together. These lions will remain a positive part of our history, and they will be greatly missed.’

With an average life expectancy of mid-teens and about 17 years in Zoos, Hubert and Kalisa were considered elderly when they arrived at the L.A. Zoo in 2014 from the Woodland Park Zoo, where they had first bonded.”

“They quickly became favorites among L.A. Zoo guests and staff and were known for their frequent cuddles and nuzzles. ‘I have to commend our animal care and veterinary staff for the great care they’ve given this pair, a couple who lived longer than most lions do in human care and the wild.'”

While the loss of this special pair is no doubt devastating to zoo staff and guests alike, the people who loved them can appreciate how long these two special big cats got to spend together. Most lions don’t live so long in the wild due to predators, injuries, illness, and lack of resources like food.

These two lucky lions got to live an incredible, comfortable life together, and when it was time to go, they passed on together and with dignity. Their story is one that we humans could only hope to have as we also continue to age.

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