Japanese zoo discovered “male” lion is actually a female

Keepers at a zoo in Sapporo, Japan recently realized that a 21-month-old lion named Clay is actually a female after the adolescent mammal didn’t grow a mane.

Other clues were the animal’s urine which was not consistent with male lions.

The Sapporo Maruyama Zoo asked Hokkaido University to genetically analyze a blood sample, and discovered that Clay, it’s presumed male lion, was, in fact, a lioness. The zoo announced the finding in spring.

Clay was born at Tobe Zoological Park in Ehime Prefecture in May 2022 and came to the Maruyama Zoo in October 2023. The cub was raised by people, and the Tobe zoo determined that it was male at 20 days of age. While a veterinarian took a blood sample, they also examined the animal and found a bulge that seemed to be a pubic mound. This turned out to a bulge caused by the animal’s coat. According to the Maruyama Zoo, it is rare to mistake the sex of an artificially raised lion.

The zoo also has 17-month-old lioness name Ito.

The zoo had planned to raise one male and one female, so it has been decided that Clay will be returned to Tobe. The Maruyama Zoo plans to cooperate once more with the Tobe park to bring in a male lion.


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