Inseparable Bonded Lion Couple Dies Just Days Apart At Chicago Zoo

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 16 Jan 2020 17:12
Inseparable Bonded Lion Couple Dies Just Days Apart At Chicago ZooBrookfield Zoo/YouTube

In true The Notebook style, two inseparable lions have died just days apart from one another. 

Sadly, the lion couple – male Zenda and lioness Isis – passed away on January 2 and January 14 respectively.


The two African lions would have turned 14 and 15 years old this year, and had been at the Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, since 2008.

LionsBrookfield Zoo/YouTube

The zoo announced the heartbreaking news on their website.

The statement read:


The new year has begun on a very sad note at Brookfield Zoo, as we have had to announce the passing of our male and female African lions, Zenda and Isis. They would have turned 14 and 15 this year, respectively.

Both lions arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2008 and were an inseparable bonded pair in all the years since. It was not uncommon to see Zenda grooming Isis or sleeping with a paw on her in their Big Cats exhibit. He remained incredibly protective of her throughout their lives.

The statement went on to say how, prior to Christmas, Zenda was having difficulty standing and walking, so was given medication to ease the pain. Then, on January 2, his well being ‘declined dramatically’ so the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize the big cat.

LionsBrookfield Zoo/YouTube

Following his death, it was discovered Zenda had several ruptured, degenerative discs in his spine due to his old age, which would have been inoperable.


Not long after Zenda’s passing, on January 13 Isis was found lying on the floor of the moat in their lion habitat, which vets believed was because she had fallen.

Despite the immediate medical attention the lioness received, she had ‘significant injuries’, and the decision to also euthanise her was made the following day.

LionsBrookfield Zoo/YouTube

The zoo’s statement further went on to say: 


The love for Zenda and Isis by zoo staff was matched by the outpouring of kind words and memories shared by guests and members in the wake of their passing. They were among the most popular animals in Brookfield Zoo and a memorable part of the zoo experience for so many people. They were also great ambassadors for their species at a time when African lions are vulnerable and in need of critical support.

We encourage you to share your condolences with staff, volunteers, members, and guests who remember both Zenda and Isis from their visits and will be feeling this loss.

They really were the Noah and Ali of the lion world. R.I.P Zenda and Isis.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Animals, Chicago, ISIS, zoo


Brookfield Zoo, Chicago
  1. Brookfield Zoo, Chicago

    Brookfield Zoo Mourns the Loss of African Lions Zenda & Isis