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New lion pair debuts today at L.A. Zoo, ending a two-year absence

Two 15-year-old African lions will make their public debuts Friday at the Los Angeles Zoo after being introduced to their new exhibit earlier in the week, officials announced.

Hubert and Kalisa, which have been together for 10 years, hail from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. They mark the return of lions to the L.A. Zoo since Cookie, suffering from cancer, was put down in 2012. She was 23 years old.

A year earlier, Cookie's male companion, Lionel, also 23, died after developing neurological and other issues.

“Guests are always asking us where the lions are,” Jennie Becker, the zoo's curator of mammals, said in a statement. “We’re very happy this pair became available, and we think people are going to be excited that we are able to have lions in the zoo again."

Since being introduced to their new home, Hubert and Kalisa have been getting acclimated to a renovated exhibit, according to the zoo. The lions will be presenting publicly for the first time to the media at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

"Hubert and Kalisa seem to be very comfortable so far and really are a magnificent sight," Becker said.

The zoo's hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

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jason.wells@latimes.com

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