Black Lion

Melanistic big Cat of South Africa and West Asia.

Physical description: Completely or partially black Lion (Panthera leo).

Distribution: Kruger National Park, South Africa; the Zagros Mountains, Iran.

Significant sightings: In the 1880s, a dark brown lion was killed by soldiers of the Luristan Regiment. It was seen by Sir Henry Layard in Esfahan, Iran.

In 1975, a partially black lion cub was born at the Glasgow Zoo. It had a black chest and one black leg.

Possible explanation: Black lion morphs have never been verified.

Sources: Henry Layard, Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana, and Babylonia (London: John Murray, 1887); W. L. Speight, "Mystery Monst ers of Africa," Empire Review 71 (1940): 223-228; June Kay, Okavango (London: Hutchinson, 1962); Karl Shuker, Mystery Cats of the World (London: Robert Hale, 1989), pp. 132-133.

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