Animal Info Lions Oddities and Random Trivia

Some oddities and random trivia about lions including the Marozi breed, their greetings, and Rajah the circus lion.



At the turn of the century, mysterious small, spotted lions were reported at heights of 10,000 to 11,500 ft. in the frigid cold of Kenya's wild Mau forest.

Later, two of these lions were killed, and a hunter and a Nairobi game warden examined their skins. The lions were two or three years old, with spots covering their entire bodies. Unlike the rosettes on cubs, these showed no signs of disappearing.

In 1933 a safari set out to find a specimen of these "Marozi," as the natives called them. They sighted only one pair, which escaped into heavy brush.

Many years later, these miniature (4 ft. 8 in.) spotted cats remain a mystery. Perhaps a race of them is still hidden in the deep forest, defying all attempts at capture.

Whereas the Marozi is the smallest lion ever reported, the heaviest was black-maned Simba. When he was 11, he weighed 826 lb. After he died in the Knaresborough Zoo in North Yorkshire, England, in 1973, he was stuffed for posterity.

Open areas such as the Serengeti National Park are the lion's natural habitat. Here they have been observed "greeting" each other by rubbing heads. Their affection is boundless as they lick and rub against each other--often with their eyes closed in ecstasy. Happily innocent of any Freudian complications, the males' ardor sometimes erupts into homosexual behavior.

Rajah was a lion who loved captivity. His greatest joy was performing in the circus. But he grew old and was retired to his own den backstage. He grieved constantly; in the arena, 90 ft. away, Alex Kerr, his trainer, could hear his sad moaning. Soon he stopped eating. One day Rajah lifted his head when Kerr called, and then suddenly keeled over dead.

"Rajah was the greatest artiste ... I have ever known," Kerr wrote in No Bars Between. "If I ever loved an animal, I loved him."

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