Attempt to Photo WV “African Lion”

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 2nd, 2007

Animal control personnel have set up cameras in the area where the African Lion is reported to be roaming in West Virginia. They are using both game cameras as well as Motion-sensitive video cameras owned by the state Department of Environmental Protection and used to catch litterbugs. Officials want to confirm that they are dealing with a African Lion before proceeding with a plan to trap the lion in a bear trap used to capture troublesome bears.“Hopefully the Lion Is Not Camera Shy,” Moose Droppings, October 29, 2007.


Lewisburg, W.Va. (AP) – Using a video camera and raw chicken, state officials hope to learn whether the king of the jungle is prowling the woods of West Virginia.

Bow hunter Jim Shortridge believes he saw a full-grown, male African lion weighing between 250 and 300 pounds at the foot of Cold Knob Mountain earlier this month. The state Division of Natural Resources confirmed that at least one other person has reported seeing the lion.

Using a camera normally employed to catch people dumping trash illegally, the state Department of Environmental Protection has joined with Greenbrier County Animal Control Officer Robert McClung and exotic animal expert Jim Forga to see if they can substantiate the sightings.

Twenty pounds of raw chicken left on the site last week were devoured, but McClung said that doesn’t prove the lion’s existence.

“Anything could have eaten that,” he said.

If officials do spot the lion on videotape, they may set a bear trap for the animal. If caught, it would be turned over to Forga, who runs Tiger Mountain Refuge in Rainelle, a shelter for exotic animals.“Lion Mystery in West Virginia,” WSLS-10, October 31, 2007.

Maybe the officials will catch that mangy bear wandering in from Pennsylvania?

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.

4 Responses to “Attempt to Photo WV “African Lion””

  1. doctoratlantis responds:

    If this turns out to be a real lion, I wonder how it will fare come winter if nobody catches it? What I always like about these “alien big cat” mysteries is that element of “If it is is a big cat – then how did it get to X?” (Where X=some non-big-cat-native area.) I always imagine some exotic pet keeper running his morning inventory and noticing he’s one lion short. Oops, maybe it will turn up later. Probably just miscounted.

    Looks like there is plenty of mountainous wooded territory for a cryptid to hide in between Lewisburg and White Sulfer Springs, and then a big territory to the north and east towards the Virginia state line.

    A male lion needs to eat about 15 pounds of meet each day. That will add up pretty quick. Also, males tend to let the females run the hunts, the kills of which the males then appropriate. But, the good news is that a single lion hunting alone is statistically as sound a hunter as a pack of lions.

  2. mystery_man responds:

    Oh yes, a male lion is quite capable of hunting for itself. If this is really an African lion, I just hope it doesn’t choose easy prey like livestock in their paddocks, leashed dogs, or kids walking home from school. An escaped exotic would be used to humans and used to having its food given to it. Therefore when it got really hungry it might not know any better than to attack whatever it thinks it can take down and there would be no real fear of humans. I don’t think the media should raise too much of a panic just yet, but this could be a potentially dangerous situation. Right now, I’m still wondering if it indeed was a lion the hunter saw. How well did he see it? 250 to 300 pounds is pretty small for a full grown male African lion. Waiting to see further developments on this one.

  3. kittenz responds:

    There have been reports of African lions roaming wild in West Virginia before this. A few years ago there was a story on WSAZ News, in which a woman said that she had seen a grown lion and a cub. She was positive that they were African lions, not mountain lions, dogs, or anything else. There were no pictures. I tried searching their archives to find the story when I first heard of this new sighting, but I guess they do not archive stories back that far. No one that I was able to reach at the station could recall the story; it was maybe 5 years ago. So I don’t know precisely where in West Virginia the previous sighting occurred.

    I do know that a pet store in Logan, WV (southwestern part of the state) used to sell lion cubs. I have been in there and seen the cubs myself. It is not too much of a stretch to think that someone may have acquired a lion and then it either escaped or they turned it loose when it became adult.

  4. John A. Lutz responds:

    Having ‘maned’ lion reports in the eastern U.S. is rare, but not unheard of.

    1) In June 1973, a ‘maned’ lion was seen wandering on Pointe Mtn in Webster Co, WV.

    2) In 1980, a similar lion was reportedly seen in Trout Pond area of Washington National Forest of western Shenandoah Co, Va, & eastern Hardy Co, WV.

    3) A 1987 sighting along Gauley River near Jerryville seemed to coincide with a WV highway worker’s claim of a huge Brown lion with black fur ball on tip of tail, crossed road 25 ft from where traffic was held at construction site.

    Since hundreds of cougars are said to be released every year by irresponsible owners, why would it not be unusual for similar owners to release an african lion?

    According to Zoologist Ted Roth in the 1970s, lions are very capable of adapting to whatever existing climatic conditions in a given area…so its possible this “lion” may have wander Greenbrier and neighboring counties for some time.

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