Arabian Lions

asiatic lion

There used to be lions in Arabia, but there haven’t been any for quite some time. According to this site:, lions in the Sana’a zoo in Yemen are descendants from wild lions caught in Yemen back in the day.

In both zoos the only exotic wildlife to be found were a number of lions with unusual histories. Transferred to the zoos from the old Imam’s Palaces, the lions from Sana’a zoo are said to be descendants of animals that were wild-caught in Yemen! Hard to believe, but samples were taken for genetic work at a later stage. Evidence of lions living in the Arabian peninsula can be found in the preserved writings of a Greek scholar, Agatharhides of Cnidus, who described a wadi in NW Arabia where local residents protected their animals against roving lions (see box). Ta’iz zoo also has some very handsome lions with the males sporting abnormally dense manes, which extend along their chests and cover the animal’s bellies. They are said to be descendants of lions given to the Imam in 1952 by Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

From another article:

Whilst we know that virtually all of Arabia’s wildlife was more abundant in the past than it is today, it is sometimes difficult to imagine an Arabia in which lions and leopards were creatures familiar to many of the peninsula’s people. A text that was written in the second century BC, over two thousand years ago, by Agatharchides of Cnidos reflects the Ancient Greek’s fascination with wild animals. Indeed, there was a flourishing trade in captive carnivores during the late Hellenistic period and subsequently during the height of the Roman Empire. Any lion or leopard unfortunate enough to be trapped in Arabia was quite likely to end up in a cage in Athens or Rome where they became objects of show or participants in some of the blood-spilling ‘games’ of the period. This interest in exotic wildlife resulted in several quite informative texts on Arabia’s wildlife at this time.

“The lions of Arabia”, wrote Agatharchides, “are less hairy and bolder. They are uniform in colour just are those in Babylonia. The sheen of their mane is such that the hair on the back of their neck gleams like gold. …the leopards are unlike those found in caria and Lycia. their bodies are large, and they are much better able to endure wounds and pain. In strength, moreover, they surpass the others by as much as a wild animal does a domesticated one.”

Wouldn’t it be neat if shiny, golden lions roamed the Arabian peninsula once more?

On the topic of lions in general, did you read about the super lions of Botswana? Apparently they’re isolated on an island and had to adapt to be able to take down water buffalo. They are bigger and stronger than most lions and they swim adroitly in deep water. Story here:

asiatic lion too


Filed under animals, arabian, arabist, beasts

15 responses to “Arabian Lions

  1. The photos here are of Asiatic Lions.

  2. these sites are interresting…….???????????

  3. Gandhi

    Our grandfathers told us that at their time in the 30’s there were lions in arabia. If u see the architect of temples-palaces in mesmopotaina and the fertile creasent area U would see that lions are very present with the nummerous statues as simple of strength-glory.
    I read some where that the ” last” arabian lion was killed by a british captain in Saudia arabia – in a place called Al Ihsa’a – a place known to be fertile and green -( middle of saudi arabia) – yes.. there is such a place, a friend of mine has a farm there.- The have figs-apple-granade-palms-orange trees..and much more.

    The british really did not left us much -… left us with dictator bandit families to rule after they left.

    • Arabian Lion

      Yes there is a big area named Alehsa in east Arabia and actually they call it “Alehsa Oasis” and I heared that the last lion in Saudia Arabia where killed there in the 30’s

      But I heared also for many people that till the 40’s and maybe 50’s there was still lions to be found in some remote places in Arabia and yemen

  4. Gandhi, thanks for your comment. Very interesting.

  5. Assholer

    U r right.british took away everything that we possesed.

  6. Arabian Lion

    Yes there is a big area and actually its an Alehsa Oasis and I heared that the last lion in Saudia Arabia where killed there

    But I heared also for many people that till the 40’s and maybe 50’s there was still lions to be found in some remote places in Arabia and even Iraq

  7. I hope our girls enjoyed their short time but innovative in LA:) I still can not believe I was so? closely,

  8. USA

    Am sorry there was no lions in Alehsa ! or Iraq ?

    they only Lions evry Lived in Arabia was in south of Saudi Arabia and Yemen , STOP lying , you SHIAH lie in every thing .

  9. Anonymous

    There are still lions in Yemen. I would know. What u guys are saying makes no sense. English please

  10. Pingback: God/Yahweh/Allah I BELIEVE started as volcanic activity - Page 8 - Religious Education Forum

  11. Suhail

    WE have to keep the animals going and LIVING! IT is God’s creation and we must keep it as it was Preserved! If there is anything I can do please contact me!…Suhail.

    • ahmed

      You are exactly right. Before we know it Lions wont exist anywhere at all, such is the nature of man – kill, kill, kill…The Lion species that USED to live in the middle east is called the “Asiatic Lion” btw, look it up. It used to range from Bangladesh, through India, into Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and into Northern Arabia…But that was before the year 1800. Between 1800 to 1950 the Asiatic Lion was wiped out EVERYWHERE, It no longer exists in any of those other countries since they were shot on sight. The Asian Lion now only exists in a tiny forest in India called the Gir Forest and they number around 450 animals. There are more people in a small town school than there are asian lions in the world. how sad is that ? Hopefully they try to reintroduce the Lion to Iran atleast – the people there seem the most likely [ie: educated] to accept Lions and not kill them in sight if the Government tells them not to.


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