JUL 18, 2017 3:06 PM PDT

What happens when a wild lioness adopts a leopard cub?


Scientists could not have been more surprised to see a five-year-old lioness nursing a young leopard cub in Tanzania's Ngorongoro Conservation Area just days ago. Typically the lion-leopard relationship goes more like: lion tries to kill leopard, leopard runs away or climbs high into tree. KopeLion, the Tanzanian conservation nonprofit that has been tracking the female lion, named, Nosikitok, by radio-collar has reported that she has several lion cubs of approximately the same age, which is why her motherly instincts may have taken over with the leopard cub.

"It's unprecedented," says Luke Hunter, president and chief conservation officer for Panthera. "We never see this in the wild." Nevertheless, Hunter says that physiologically it could work, as both lions and leopards produce similar milk and nurse for uniform time periods. However, he's hesitant to be so confident, knowing the reality ahead of the little leopard will be harsh. Surviving the den period and later being accepted into the lion pride will not be easy feats. "This is all speculation, and I'm hoping for the best," says Hunter, "but I think the challenges to this little fellow surviving are really immense."
About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
Noise Pollution Threatens Norway's Orcas
NOV 12, 2020
Noise Pollution Threatens Norway's Orcas
Orca pods heavily depend on vocal communication for survival. Their unique ability to communicate with other pod members ...
NOV 12, 2020
Health & Medicine
Measles Cases and Deaths Surge Worldwide
NOV 12, 2020
Measles Cases and Deaths Surge Worldwide
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a stat ...
MAR 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Sea Slug Shows Extreme Case of Regeneration
MAR 09, 2021
Sea Slug Shows Extreme Case of Regeneration
Some of the most interesting—and possibly strangest—scientific discoveries happen by accident. According to ...
APR 12, 2021
Space & Astronomy
5,200 Tons of Space Dust Fall to Earth Each Year
APR 12, 2021
5,200 Tons of Space Dust Fall to Earth Each Year
An international team of scientists has found that each year, 5,200 tons of dust falls from space to Earth. This far out ...
MAY 23, 2021
Space & Astronomy
More Accurate Clocks Create More Disorder in the Universe
MAY 23, 2021
More Accurate Clocks Create More Disorder in the Universe
Physicists at the University of Oxford in the UK have conducted an experiment that suggests the more accurately clocks t ...
JUL 13, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Artificial Lighting Disrupts Pollinating Insects' Vision
JUL 13, 2021
Artificial Lighting Disrupts Pollinating Insects' Vision
Artificial lighting can affect the eyesight of moths that rely on night-time vision, such as the elephant hawkmoth. The ...
Loading Comments...