Lion killed by mother of his cubs was on loan from San Diego Zoo

SAN DIEGO -- A 10-year-old male lion on loan from the San Diego Zoo was killed at the Indianapolis Zoo by a lioness, zoo officials announced Friday.

The lion, named Nyack, had fathered three cubs with the lion that killed him on Monday morning before the zoo opened for the day. The two lions had been housed together for eight years.

Officials at the San Diego Zoo did not respond to a request for comment.

Nyack and the lioness, Zuri, were in Indianapolis as part of the Species Survival Plan, a population management program for member institutions of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Zuri (Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Zoo)

Zuri was seen being aggressive with Nyack in the zoo's outdoor yard prior to Nyack's death. One of Nyack and Zuri's cubs was also in the outdoor yard during that time. Zoo staff and animal care personnel attempted to separate the lions, but Zuri reportedly held Nyack by the neck until the male lion acquiesced and stopped moving.

The Indianapolis Zoo said it plans to conduct a through investigation of the killing. It remains unclear what prompted Zuri to attack Nyack. Zoo staff said the two lions had always been compatible and hadn't shown aggression toward each other.