Dallas Zoo officials still puzzled over lion's violent death

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by MARCUS MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarcusMoorewfaa

WFAA

Posted on November 18, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 18 at 7:46 PM

DALLAS — Workers and visitors at the Dallas Zoo are still coming to grips with Sunday's death of a female lion that was suffocated by the jaws of a male lion.

Zoo officials are still trying to determine exactly what happened to Johari and why.

It's clear that the unexpected and violent death of this beloved big cat has had a sobering impact on the staff at the zoo.

On Monday morning, the zoo's remaining female lion could be seen sunning herself atop a rock at the Giants of the Savannah exhibit. 

Dozens of horrified zoo visitors witnessed Johari's death on Sunday afternoon. Some said the ordeal lasted for 10 minutes. Veterinary staff found puncture wounds to her neck, hemorrhaging under her skin and a collapsed trachea that caused her to suffocate, said Lynn Kramer, vice president of zoo operations. 

"There are male coalitions in the wild of two to five males, and sometimes they come in and displace a male that's been the head of a pride," he said. "At that time, it's not unusual for them to kill the cubs and then mate with the lionesses, but it extremely rare that they would attack or kill the females."

The animals involved in Sunday's incident were never in the wild; they were born in captivity.  

“I think this is a very isolated incident and the chances of it occurring again would be very remote,” said Kramer. 

Zoo workers are being interviewed to see if there were any possible warning signs. They will also review policies and procedures to determine if any changes need to be made.

The two male lions in the exhibit are also being monitored. The zoo is now conducting its own internal investigation to see if the lioness’ behaviors before the attack could give some insight.

News 8's Sebastian Robertson contributed to this report

E-mail mmoore@wfaa.com

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