Scientists Have No Idea Why This 18-Year-Old Lioness Randomly Grew a Mane

For eighteen years, a big cat named Bridget looked like an ordinary lioness. Recently, however, the Oklahoma City Zoo resident grew mane typical of lions. The development has stumped local veterinarians and the zoo’s staff.

Said Gretchen Cole, an associate veterinarian at the zoo:

“After a while, it became obvious to everybody that Bridget was developing something a little different.”

Credit: Oklahoma City Zoo

ABC News reports that the zoo’s staff have taken blood samples to try and deduce why the lioness all of a sudden sprouted a “mini-mane.” The samples will be compared to the samples taken from Bridget’s sister. Both are from the same litter, but Tia has not shown signs of similar hair growth.

Changes when a female develops characteristics of a male are unusual,” Cole said.

Scientists are looking to a population of lions living in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Africa, for answers. At least five females — just like Bridget — have developed manes. Apparently, all have displayed more masculine traits, such as mounting females, roaring, and scent-marking. Based on this data, experts believe excessive testosterone levels may be the culprit.

OKC Zoo veterinary caretakers are working to solve a very curious case; Bridget, the Zoo’s 18-year-old African lioness,…

Posted by Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden on Monday, February 19, 2018

The lionesses are stronger and larger due to the higher testosterone levels, but not all effects are beneficial. A surge in testosterone is linked to infertility issues. Such was documented in 2013 when a 13-year-old lioness at the National Zoo in South Africa experienced issues with her ovaries as a result of high testosterone levels.

It is also possible Bridget has a benign tumor located on her adrenal or pituitary glands. Because these glands regulate hormones, it could explain why she suddenly sprouted a mane.

The average age of a lion is 16.9 years. As a result, Bridget’s age places her in the “geriatric” category of lions. According to Cole, the lioness doesn’t seem to notice her new hairdo. In fact, she is acting “completely normal.” In addition to eating and grooming the same, she still has a “strong attitude.”

“It’s only the outward appearance of the mane that has changed,” said Cole. “… We are trying to solve the puzzle.”

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

h/t IFLScience, ABC News

While you’re here…
…We have a tiny favor to ask of you. Government think tanks have teamed up with social media companies and Google to censor independent media websites and government criticism. Despite this big tech crackdown on the free press, we have been very fortunate, and tens of thousands of people continue to read The Mind Unleashed every single day. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.. And because we value open and accessible information for all, we would never hide our content behind a paywall. Unlike Fox News or CNN, our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. We are not subject to the whims of billionaire shareholders. We are editorially independent, and that makes websites like this an important part in the war for truth and justice. Hopefully we’re wrong, but without your help, we're afraid big tech companies may soon make The Mind Unleashed algorithmically disappear from the Internet. We need your support to keep delivering quality independent news. Every contribution, big or small, will go directly into funding independent journalism. Thank you. Click here to support us

View Comments