Maned Lion Spotted in Colorado

Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 14th, 2008


“Lion” photo courtesy of Sharon Harding-Shaw. Colorado, July 14, 2008.


For comparison, I’ve added this photo of a lion demonstrating the tail up appearance.

The Associated Press is reporting, today, July 14, 2008, that a large maned felid has been sighted in El Paso County, Colorado, in the Falcon Hwy. and Log Rd. area, near Colorado Springs.


“An African Lion has been spotted. Two people reported seeing the lion, including one who captured a photo of the lion chasing dogs,” reads the first bulletin.


Sheriff’s Lieutenant Lari Sevene says the lion was reported at about 8:00 am this morning in the eastern part of the county.

One eyewitness told deputies the cat had a red mane and a big tail.


The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office reports that no lions have escaped from Big Cats of Serenity Springs, which exists in the vicinity. It’s a sanctuary that houses lions, tigers, ligers, cougars, leopards, and servals.

Colorado Division of Wildlife officers are searching for the big cat.


The command post in eastern El Paso County, where authorities searched for an African Lion that was reported to be roaming the area. July 14, 2008.

Michael Seraphin, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said photos taken by two residents and tracks found by DOW officers confirm the animal is an African lion and not a cougar.

Resident Sharon Harding-Shaw was one of the first to spot the reported lion. She took cell phone photos and gave them to authorities.

There have now been three sightings of the animal. Deputies are being told by witnesses that the cat has a red mane and a big tail.

Crews from Serenity Springs and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo have joined state officials in the search.

The four wildlife sanctuaries that are permitted to have lions all say their lions are accounted for.


Late update: Search has been called off. Officials are not saying they are unsure if there ever was a lion.

This conclusion seems at odds with the earlier “official” statements.


The appendix, “The American Lion (Panthera atrox): Cryptid Black Panthers, Maned Cats, and Striped Felines Selected Sightings” in Mysterious America details decades of large mystery maned felid sightings. The appendix supports the specific details of Chapter 13, “Maned Mystery Cats.”

Thanks to Matt Bille of Colorado for today’s alert and the updates, with photo of the mystery animal.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

19 Responses to “Maned Lion Spotted in Colorado”

  1. cryptidsrus responds:

    This is very cool. Thanks for the heads-up, Loren. Chasing dogs??? Interesting…

    Ultimately, more information needs to be collected for this to be discussed properly. Looks real at first glance, though.

    Wish they would specify what they mean by “large.”

  2. cryptidsrus responds:

    Would like to know the estimate of size. Some lions are bigger than others. Also, the size of the mane. Good indicator.

    Castrated lions tend to have shorter manes. (God forbid.)

  3. Lightning Orb responds:

    So, perhaps someone tried to drop their unwanted pet off at the big cat sanctuary but it got away? It would likely be a tad difficult to keep a big lion in line.

  4. MattBille responds:

    I’ll keep everyone posted on what the local media say. I do have to wonder about how forthcoming the sanctuary is being: it seems too much of a coincidence to have a definitively identified African lion wandering around in the vicinity of a big cat sanctuary and have no connection.

  5. MattBille responds:

    Latest news, with a photo of the cat [added above to posting].

  6. MattBille responds:

    An interesting sidelight is that someone has posted what I presume is a hoax claim of ownership on TV station kktv’s website (Manitou Springs is many miles from the lion’s location):

    Posted by: Stephen Location: Manitou Springs on Jul 14, 2008 at 01:08 PM
    His name is Sparky. He is our pet and has escaped from the basement. Someone please help, however he doesn’t take kindly to strangers. Thanks

  7. Fishing J responds:

    both news stations have the photograph. and the one mentioned by Matt. KRDO’s site has it zoomed in a bit more. There’s comments that it looks like a Chow, but it’s so fuzzy that it makes it hard to determine.

  8. MattBille responds:

    I can’t resist passing on one more item from the Colorado Springs Gazette’s coverage:

    “As the search wore on into early afternoon, some residents were taking the danger seriously enough to have strapped on revolvers, while others searched on horseback with lassos at the ready.”

    Yep. Out West here, we take our loose lions SERIOUSLY, buckaroo.

  9. ShefZ28 responds:

    There was a cat attacking a squirrel on my deck last night. I ran outside to see what the commotion was with a flashlight and a hockey stick. I’m not sure what I would have done if it was an African Lion.

    That would make for a good story.

  10. MattBille responds:

    We are now getting TV updates saying the search is being called off. Apparently the supposedly firm identification as a lion has been retracted. One station is saying the animal was a Great Pyrenees sheepdog, which would account for the large size but certainly does not have the reported mane.

  11. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Great work on the follow-ups of this story MattBille. Much appreciated 🙂

    And yes, looking at the photo the tail of the “lion” seems kind of weird, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it ends up being a dog.

  12. kittenz responds:

    A Great Pyrenees dog would not be a reddish color; they’re almost always white, sometimes with grayish or light tan-colored markings. They have heavy coats but they don’t really have manes like those of lions. I suppose that a large chow could be mistaken for a lion; the comment about the “big tail” makes me wonder. Chows look bigger than they really are and the often have magnificent manes. A chow’s tail looks big because of all that hair, but a lion’s tail does not look especially large considering the size of the animal. The photo posted in this article looks more like a lion than a chow to me but the photo isn’t really clear enough to be sure.

    I agree with Matt: it’s a stretch to think that an African lion would just happen to be loose in an area where there is a nearby sanctuary which houses such cats. On the other hand, the fact that a sanctuary exists in the area might cause people to think “There’s a lion loose!” when they see a large shaggy animal from a distance.

    Maybe it’s a chow in a lion suit ;).

  13. Lightning Orb responds:

    They think the “lion” was a dog? I guess that’s good and bad; good the locals probably aren’t in danger of being attacked by some ginormous exotic one sunny unsuspecting morning, bad for credibility.

  14. Loren Coleman responds:

    I have added a photograph with a lion demonstrating a tail up appearance, and other updates above.

  15. hlw responds:

    Rare enough to get a report of a maned cat, but a photo as well. Awesome. It’s been a while since I logged in, but it’s the reports like this that keep me watching, after week upon week of tree trunks and bad suits. Hopefully, thunderbirds and kangaroos are coming next. We may have a fun summer yet. Keep up the good work guys.

  16. MattBille responds:

    The whole business is still, to my mind, a bit confused.

    They are blaming a Great Pyrenees, which matches the size but not the rest of the description. Some have shaggy hair on their very robust shoulders, which might give the impression at a glance of a slight mane, but the color of this dog is white, varying no darker than a pale yellow. And they are not common dogs – someone should have reported one missing. (There’s a photo on of a slihgtly yellowish example, named, interestingly, Lion.)

    As to the paw print, a spokemsman for the Divison of Wildlife called it a lion. If the print was clear, an expert should not have confused canine with feline. If it was smudged or faint, he shouldn’t have been venturing an ID at all.


  17. Munnin responds:

    “As to the paw print, a spokemsman for the Divison of Wildlife called it a lion. If the print was clear, an expert should not have confused canine with feline. If it was smudged or faint, he shouldn’t have been venturing an ID at all.


    My thoughts exactly. I would think there would be quite a discernable difference in a clearly imprinted track.

  18. mitchigan responds:

    My neighbor had a Chow to which he gave a “Lion Cut” to every summer. It was astounding how much the dog resembled a lion, even up close.

  19. cryptidsrus responds:

    Thank you for the link, MattBille…

    I tend to agree with Kittenz. Looks like a lion to me. I’m sorry, but the front (facial features) do not match chows I’ve seen. A chow would not be that clear from a far distance. I know the eye can be “tricked.” But sometimes intuition is not always erroneous.

    One good way to verify whether this is truly a lion or not would be to ask Ms. Harding-Davis how far away she was from this thing when she took the photo. Nobody apparently did. I also agree with MattBille about the paw print. Is it a lion, or dog??? Which is it, people?

    Could it be that the El Paso County Shriff’s Dept are trying to downplay this or explain it away in order to avoid “panic?”

    Has anybody really talked to the people down at the reserve? Really “talked” to them?

    And could it also be that Freud’s apocryphal statement is sometimes true?

    “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar?”

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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