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Picture of a Black Lion


As shared on Facebook, June 2012:
Black Lion

Netlore Archive: Circulating via social media, this viral image supposedly documents the existence of a 'melanistic' or black lion on a game refuge in Africa.

Image originated on DeviantArt.com ©2012 ~PAulie-SVK

Description: Viral image / Hoax
Circulating since: June 2012
Status: Fake (see details below)

Analysis: Alas, this gorgeous animal doesn't really exist. It's an admitted hoax, created by manipulating the colors in an image of a white lion (which does exist) photographed at the Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn, South Africa. Voila: a black lion.

According to the Global White Lion Protection Trust, white lions are a genetic anomaly unique to the Timbavati region of South Africa. They are considered "technically extinct" in the wild due to over-hunting. Though an all-black or "melanistic" lion could theoretically exist (and probably does, somewhere), I've run across no documented sightings of such an animal, only anecdotal reports such as that in George Adamson's 1987 book, My Pride and Joy, of an "almost entirely black" specimen spotted in Tanzania.

Hoax Quiz: Can YOU Spot the Fakes?

More critters of a different color:
Black Fawn
Albino Fawn
Rare Golden Zebra
Puppy with a Heart
Calico Buck
Pink Dolphin
Rainbow Owl

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Sources and further reading:

Black (Melanistic) Lion
Manipulated image on DeviantArt.com, June 2012

10 Facts About White Lions
Global White Lion Protection Trust, 2011

Photo: White Lion Pride
About.com: Animals / Wildlife


Mutant Big Cats - Black Lions

My Pride and Joy by George Adamson
Simon and Schuster, 1987 (p. 54)

Last updated 10/01/13

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