An inseparable lion couple was put down at the Los Angeles Zoo over the weekend due to failing health and age-related illnesses. The pair of African lions have been residents at the LA Zoo for over six years since their arrival in 2014 from Woodland Park Zoo. The zoo staff decided to humanely euthanize the 21-year-old lions together so neither would have to suffer living a life without the other.

Hubert and Kalisa were noted favourites both among guests and the staff for their very public displays of affection for each other. They have been steady companions since their arrival and surely touched everyone who has witnessed their loyal companionship.

View this post on Instagram

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.” Please join us in honoring Hubert and Kalisa and their legacy by sharing some of your favorite memories of them here or by tagging LA Zoo.

A post shared by Los Angeles Zoo (@lazoo) on

The zoo's Animal Programs director, Beth Schaefer, spoke fondly of how the lions were "charismatic both together as partners and separately. Their undivided attention was always on the other as they rested together, cuddled and nuzzled often."

Denise Veret, chief executive and zoo director has expressed her sadness for having come to this difficult decision but the lions' declining state of health could only mean a "diminished quality of life" for the couple.

"Hubert and Kalisa are an iconic part of the LA Zoo experience. Their longevity is truly a testament to the level of expert care our veterinary and animal care teams provide for our elderly animals."

"These lions will remain a positive part of our history, and they will be greatly missed." Veret adds.

Hubert was a former resident at the Lincoln Park Zoo. He was born on February 7, 1999 and is a father to 10 cubs. Kalisa came from the Woodland Park Zoo and was born on December 26, 1998. They were moved to the LA Zoo in 2014 but unfortunately have not been able to produce cubs together.

Both Hubert and Kalisa have outlived the normal lifespan of lions in the wild which normally reach up to their mid-teens at 14 years, while those living in zoos live up to 17 years. As of now, the LA Zoo has no plans to add more lions in their care.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed African lions as a species "vulnerable to human-wildlife conflict" with about 23,000 to 39,000 lions remaining across the globe.

lion trophy hunting
Human activity poses important threats to lions. Massimo Mei/Getty Images