Stories tagged lions

It's described as the first-ever live lion hunt to be webcast. Here's a link to video footage of the event for your lunch time Internet browsing enjoyment.

Have you been to church?: An escaped zoo lioness (not this one) rode out the brunt of Hurricane Ike with a bunch of humans in a little island church off the coast of Texas this past weekend.
Have you been to church?: An escaped zoo lioness (not this one) rode out the brunt of Hurricane Ike with a bunch of humans in a little island church off the coast of Texas this past weekend.Courtesy Aaron Logan
I seem to be on a religious kick this week, but here's a link to a cool story and photo about an unusual occurance when Hurricane Ike struck Texas this past weekend. An evacuee driving in his truck passed an escaped lioness from the zoo and put it in the back of his truck. They ended up riding out the storm with a bunch of other people in a church. The locked the lion in the sanctuary (it slept on the altar area) while the humans took refuge in another part of the church. From all accounts, the lioness was very well behaved during her time in the church.

There have been several confirmed sightings of an African lion on the loose in the rural areas about 30 miles outside of Colorado Springs. A local "big cat" sanctuary reports all of its lions are present and accounted for. This link can take to you links with photos that people have snapped of the Colorado interloper.


Tsavo Maneaters: Even scary in black and white.
Tsavo Maneaters: Even scary in black and white.
Last week I made a trip to Chicago with the sole purpose of going to the Field Museum. I had never been there before, and I was not disappointed. I saw plenty of cool stuff, including the stuffed bodies of the famous Tsavo man-eating lions. Coincidentally, last week the National Museum of Kenya demanded the return of the lions to Nairobi, claiming that they are important artifacts of the country’s history and heritage. I’m all for it – as long as I’ve seen the lions, I really don’t care what happens to them. I make all my decisions that way.

I do recommend that you look into the story of the lions, though. It’s pretty “badass” (I got that term off of the text on the Field Museum’s display). The short version of the story is this: In 1898, during the construction of a bridge over the Tsavo River for the Kenya-Uganda railway (dubbed “The Lunatic Express”), two exceptionally large, maneless male lions killed and ate about 140 railway workers over the course of nine months. That’s so many people.

The workers built thorn fences around their encampment, and set traps for the animals, but the lions were always able to crawl through the barriers, and avoid the traps and any ambush attempts, to drag men from their tents and eat them. Eventually Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson (an engineer overseeing the bridge’s construction) was able to shoot and kill the lions, although he claimed that each was able to withstand several shots from his rifle before falling.

Scientists are still unsure as to cause of the Tsavo maneaters unusual aggression and preference for human flesh, but several theories have been put forth. Some think that the lions’ skulls indicate that each had abscessed gums, which could have made attacking large and tougher animals too painful. Another theory is that an outbreak of rinderpest disease (a viral infection effecting cattle and related species) had decimated the lions’ usual food source, and forced them to seek other prey (i.e., humans). John Patterson’s journals also indicate that the graves of deceased workers had been disturbed and that the bodies had been removed, and some believe that the lions developed their taste for humans by scavenging in this way, and then modified their behavior to capture the sleeping workers from their tents.

The movie The Ghost and the Darkness is about the Tsavo events. It stars Michael Douglass and international film sensation Madmartigan.

Any thoughts on artifact repatriation, or about the lions specifically?


Scientists in Maryland have put together a family tree for cats. Using DNA evidence, they found that the first cats evolved in South East Asia around 11 million years ago. The Panthera genus, which includes lions, tigers and jaguars, evolved first. Various other groups evolved rapidly, with the final group, the ancestor of the domestic house cat, emerging in Africa and Europe about 6.5 million years ago.

Confuse-a-cat: The evolutionary history of cats is quite a head-scratcher!

According to
this blogger,
the interesting thing about this study is that it was done entirely by genetics — by comparing DNA samples. Species with similar DNA are considered to be close relatives. The more traditional way of figuring out evolutionary relationships — by studying fossils — was less helpful in this particular case. Cat fossils look very much alike, and it can be extremely difficult to figure out exactly which species is related to which. Especially in a family like the cats, where the different animals moved around a lot. (According to the study, the ancestors of the cheetah started in South East Asia, moved to North America, and then back to Asia / Africa!)

Just goes to show that evidence for evolution comes from many different sources.

* (Yes, it's another obscure reference to pop songs from Gene's formative years...)