Unique Lions of Ethiopia

The Addis Ababa Lion

(Image credit: Joerg Junhold and Klaus Eulenberger, Leipzig Zoo)

A group of lions at the Addis Ababa Zoo in Ethiopia have dark manes that cover their chest and belly.

Collected By Selassie, A Figure Revered By Rastas

(Image credit: Joerg Junhold and Klaus Eulenberger, Leipzig Zoo)

The late emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, established the zoo in 1948 with seven founder lions (five males and two females).

Unique Genes

(Image credit: Joerg Junhold and Klaus Eulenberger, Leipzig Zoo)

There are 15 descendants of those lions currently at the Addis Ababa Zoo and DNA tests showed that the big cats make up a genetically distinct population.

How To Preserve The Population

(Image credit: Joerg Junhold and Klaus Eulenberger, Leipzig Zoo)

With so few of the Addis Ababa lions left, and none known in the wild, researchers say captive breeding could ensure that the group doesn't disappear.

Where Did They Come From?

(Image credit: Joerg Junhold and Klaus Eulenberger, Leipzig Zoo)

Since the lions' DNA isn't comparable to any other populations with genetic data available, the researchers don't know where the group came from geographically. It has been claimed that the founder lions were captured in southwestern Ethiopia.