photo of an african lion

Barbary Lion
(Panthera leo leo)

Also known as the Atlas Lion, Nubian Lion, or North African Lion, the Barbary Lion is a recently extinct sub-species of the African lion. The last wild Barbary lions were observed in North Africa in the late 1950s/early 1960s.

These lions were imported en masse into Europe during the days of the Roman Empire to star as entertainers in Coliseum spectacles. When you imagine Christians being thrown to the lions, it is the Barbary lion you should envision as a central player.

Because of the influence of the Romans, descendants of these lions continue to exist (usually with diluted bloodlines) in the zoos and circuses across Europe.

After years of research into the science of the Barbary Lion and stories of surviving examples, WildLink International, in collaboration with Oxford University, launched its ambitious International Barbary Lion Project. Oxford used the very latest DNA techniques to identify the DNA ‘fingerprint’ of the Barbary Lion subspecies. The hope is to eventually breed lions that are genetically identical to the extinct Barbary, and perhaps even to reintroduce the lion to its original mountainous habitat in North Africa.

The Maned American Lion is named such as it is different from the now extinct American Lion which was not speculated as having a mane. This creature has been seen across the USA, from California to Maine. It resembles a (usually male) African Lion, 5 to 8 feet in length, shaggy fur in a brown or golden color, fur around its head and neck that resembles a mane, and at times is reported as having stripes or spots. 

In a cave on Bald Eagle Mountain, Pennsylvania, a man named Peter Pentz killed a large feline with a matted mane in 1797. This creature had been killing farmers’ animals for around 6 years before it was killed. In 1948, a big maned cat was seen hunting and traveling with a black panther in Elkhorn Falls, Indiana. They were later seen migrating to Ohio. A farmer in Kapuskasing, Ontario, in June, 1960, saw what looked like a lion on his farm. He recalled it had a mane, was a tan color and had a 4 foot tail with a bush of fur at the end. There have been far more encounters than this over the years. 

It is possible that these lions are merely escaped animals from zoos, circuses or private enclosures.

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Kruger Park, giraffe kill by Leonard van der Walt

Whilst on safari to the Kruger National Park, we came across the pride of lions feeding off a giraffe, this cub had eaten enough! and took a nap in the rib cage

Female lions are the breadwinners in their prides. They do all of the hunting, which means sometimes they need to stop for a well-deserved cat nap.

Learn how you can help us save these adorable big cats in Mission: Lion Rescue!