| Cape lion, Panthera leo abyssinica, West African lion, Masai lion, African Lion|
The Ethiopian lion (Panthera leo roosevelti), also called "Addis Ababa lion" or "Abyssinian lion," is considered a possible lion subspecies native to Ethiopia, following a genetic and phenotypic analysis on lions in Addis Abeba's zoo. Previously, researchers thought that the East African lion inhabited Ethiopia.
Ethiopian lion Wikipedia
In 1914, the American zoologist Heller described the Ethiopian or Abyssinian lion under the name Felis leo roosevelti on the basis of a male lion presented to President Roosevelt, allegedly from the vicinity of Addis Abeba.
A DNA analysis was conducted on fifteen lions in the zoo, to six populations of wild lions, by a team of researchers led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, and the University of York in the United Kingdom. The results showed little signs of inbreeding, and that they were genetically unique. Their uniqueness was shown from a comparison of their mitochondrial Cytochrome B (CytB) gene sequence, to sequences of wild lions of different origins.
Compared to other African lions, Ethiopian lions have darker manes and smaller bodies. However, the physical differences to wild lions may be due to their living in captivity, which can affect a lion's physical appearance. They may have been bigger in the past. Abyssinian lions appeared to have been bigger and thicker-maned than lions in Somalia (likely Panthera leo nubica), but smaller than what Heller called the "quite extinct" South African lion.
Manes of Abyssinian lions were black and thick, similar to those of Cape lions, but they did not extend through the flanks. Manes of Cape lion and Barbary lions, in Northwestern Africa, did extend through them.
Ethiopian authorities stated that the zoo's lions resembled lions in the eastern and northeastern parts of th country, in Babille Elephant Sanctuary, and in a facility for rescuing wildlife in Ensessakotteh. The lions of the zoo belonged to the zoo's founder Haile Selassie, who founded it in 1948. Their origin in the wilderness is not known. One theory is that they may have descended from seven lions, five males and two females, which originated in the southwestern part of the country, and that wild lions no longer exist there, because their dark manes made them visible to hunters.