Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Officials at the Dallas Zoo are still trying to determine what happened during a vicious attack that left a 5-year-old lioness in the zoo’s Giants of the Savanna exhibit dead.
Two male lions killed the lioness, Johari, by suffocating her during an attack witnessed by dozens of zoo visitors but none of the zookeepers.
Witnesses say one of the male lions started biting Johari on the throat as the other male lion went in for the kill. She eventually went limp underneath one of the bigger males.
“You just stand there and you can’t believe what’s happening,” witness Michael Henshaw told CBS Dallas-Fort Worth. “Are they playing or are they killing each other?”
Zoo officials are attempting to investigate how the female lion was behaving in the moments before she was killed in order to understand what caused the attack.
“There was a couple of puncture wounds, and that was all we saw externally…and there was some hemorrhaging underneath the skin. Basically the animal’s trachea was collapsed and she suffocated,” said Dr. Lynn Kramer of the Dallas Zoo.
The two aggressive lions are being held in their night quarters for the time being but it’s possible that they'll be allowed back into the exhibit as soon as this week.
“Well, I found it sad. My friends from out of town and we wanted to see the lions. So we’ll just kind of move on and see what’s left,” said zoo visitor Shannon Farley.