Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), and Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

ShukerNature - http://www.karlshuker.blogspot.com

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Sunday, 18 November 2012

GREEN LION...OR GREEN LEOPARD? ON THE TRACK OF HEUVELMANS'S UNKNOWN MYSTERY CAT

A green lion
(Public domain image photomanipulated by Dr Karl Shuker)

If a black lion (click here for more information) or even a white lion (click here for more information) seems unlikely, how much more so a green lion? Remarkably, however, as very briefly mentioned in C.A.W. Guggisberg’s book Simba: The Life of the Lion (1961) and subsequently recalled in my own book Mystery Cats of the World (1989), what was claimed to be a bona fide green lion was allegedly spied on one occasion by a prospector in the forests of western Uganda. Could it have been an individual covered in greenish slime from a stagnant, alga-choked pool in which it had recently bathed? Possibly, although Guggisberg took a rather more pragmatic view:

"[It] no doubt emerged from a whisky bottle!"

Whatever the answer, this is not the only green-furred big cat on record from Africa.

Was a green lion once seen in Uganda?
(artwork © Felipe Solero)

In his annotated checklist of cryptozoological animals, published in 1986 within Cryptozoology, the former scientific journal of the now-defunct International Society of Cryptozoology (ISC), pioneering mystery beast chronicler Dr Bernard Heuvelmans included the following tantalising sentence:

"Anomalous felines, such as black, red, or white lions, green leopards, and striped cheetahs, reported from many African countries (Heuvelmans, 1983b)."

The reference that he cited there was his own, then-unpublished book manuscript Les Félins Encore Inconnus d’Afrique (The Still-Unknown Cats of Africa). In 2007, however, six years after his death, this important cryptozoological work was finally published, but although I have perused it carefully, I have been unable to find any mention of green leopards in it.

Consequently, earlier this year I contacted French cryptozoologist Michel Raynal, who had been in close cryptozoological contact with Heuvelmans for many years, and asked his views on this subject. In his reply to me of 22 June 2011, Michel stated that Heuvelmans had been wrong, and he confirmed that no mention of green leopards was present in his African mystery cats book. So the original source of this extraordinary claim remains unknown.


Is this what a green leopard would look like?
(Public domain image photomanipulated by Dr Karl Shuker)

However, I strongly suspect that the answer may simply be that Heuvelmans had misremembered the short note concerning green lions in Guggisberg’s Simba (with which he was familiar and had referred to in several of his own works), confusing lion with leopard, and thereby inadvertently inventing a mystery cat that had never existed even in legend, let alone in reality.

Having said that, even if a green leopard truly existed it is highly unlikely that we would ever know. After all, concealed amid leafy jungle foliage or verdant grasslands, such a creature would be an unrivalled master of camouflage!

While researching the mystifying case of Heuvelmans's missing green leopard, I was intrigued to learn that the Chiriguani people of Bolivia believe that solar and lunar eclipses are caused by Yaguarogui, a supernatural green jaguar, attempting to devour the sun and the moon.

Yaguarogui
(Public domain image photomanipulated by Dr Karl Shuker)

So now we know of reported examples, mistaken or otherwise, of green lions, green leopards, and green jaguars - what about green tigers?

Eastern mythology includes celestial tigers of several different colours – blue, red, yellow, white, and black, but nothing green. Despite prolonged searches, moreover, I was disappointed to uncover nothing whatsoever on the subject of green tigers – except, that is, for an indisputably green, striped, tigerine companion of Prince Adam, the true identity of super-hero He Man in the popular 'Masters of the Universe' television cartoon series produced by Filmation.

Cringer/Battle Cat
(© Alan Oppenheimer/Filmation/Wikipedia)

This unusual cat, made even more so by his ability to speak, is called Cringer and is normally a cowardly, easily-scared creature, but when Prince Adam transforms into his alter ego He Man and points his sword at him, emitting a bolt of energy, Cringer is also transformed – into a huge, fearless, extremely powerful version of himself known as Battle Cat.

Happily, however, there is one realm where even as sequestered a cryptid as a green tiger can be readily found - among the fabulous fauna of Photoshop. So here, to bid you adieu, is a stunning example!

Green tiger
(© Deathangle121.deviantart.com)

UPDATE: 19 November 2012

Today, Nick Redfern added a link to this present ShukerNature blog post of mine on the Cryptomundo website, and only a short time later one of Cryptomundo's regular readers, with the user name PhotoExpert, posted a fascinating response, which I found so interesting and relevant to the subject of green lions that I requested permission to document it here. PhotoExpert very kindly agreed to my doing so, and also allowed me to credit him via his real name, which is John Valentini Jr. So here is a summary of John's Cryptomundo response.

One day, while visiting a local zoo, John photographed a lioness, of totally normal colouration, but when he received his negatives and prints back from the developers (i.e. back in the days before digital photography), he was very surprised to discover that in them the lioness was green! She had been walking through an expanse of grass with her body held low when he had photographed her, and at the precise angle that John was photographing her the green light reflecting from the grass had made her look green. (Some grass, noted John, can be around 18-26% reflective.) Having to concentrate keeping his camera focused upon her through only a small viewfinder and thick glass, however, John hadn't noticed this optical effect himself - not until the negatives and prints had subsequently revealed it. Consequently, John speculates that perhaps, if viewed at precisely the correct angle, a similar effect could occur with a lion observed in the wild in decent light conditions but with plenty of green foliage around it, and that this may explain the Ugandan prospector's claimed sighting of a green lion.

Needless to say, I am delighted that John documented his extraordinary photographic experience on Cryptomundo in response to the link to this ShukerNature article of mine, as it may indeed offer a very plausible, rational explanation for the alleged green lion of Uganda - but one so remarkable that I would never even have thought of it, had John not posted it - so many thanks, John, once again!

By sheer coincidence, on this same day I have also discovered the following delightful photograph online of a green tiger of the topiary kind, at Busch Gardens, in Tampa Bay, Florida:

A green topiary tiger (Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Florida)

This ShukerNature post is excerpted from my latest book, Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery: A Feline Phantasmagoria (CFZ Press: Bideford, 2012).



2 comments:

  1. A fun article!:D I'm very excited about this book, having always been fascinated by feline ways. I understand (from an episode of QI, which is the best source I can give) that there are no mammals with truly green fur. That seems odd given that both predators and their prey would apparently benefit from greater camouflage with their foliage surroundings. Is there a genetic barrier to mammals having green fur? Birds seem to experience no such problem in having green feathers. Best of luck with the book.:)

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  2. Thanks Paul, glad you enjoyed it. The book should be available to pre-order by the end of this week, and out on Amazon by December. I've actually written a ShukerNature blog post re the anomaly of green mammals (or the near-lack of them). You can access it at:
    http://www.karlshuker.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/how-green-was-my-polar-bear.html

    All the best, Karl

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