Hoaxes & Rumors

Are Black Lions Real or Fake?

Are Black Lions Real or Fake?

Persistent rumors claim that a rare black lion exists, bolstered by photos that allegedly prove the elusive creature is real. Are black lions real or fake?

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The photos are fake.

Black lions are not known to exist.

Several “black lion” photos have circulated on social media over the past several years. One version was used as an attempt to gain likes for social media profiles, while other “fact” pages have erroneously used Photoshopped images. Yet other variants include a back story stating that the last black lion in the world has been found. For example:

Black Lion… 🙂 How many likes for him?

Black Lion….only 1 alive…..in the world. can we get maximum likes 4 dis amazing pic…Share N tag PLS…

The one and last black Lion in the world….extinction on its way.

The Last Black Lion Alive at Norway Zoo . Really Awesome . 🙂

Although the photos below – which have circulated for years – allegedly show rare black lions, they have all been proven to be digital manipulations. After the first variant below received heavy sharing online, several copy-cat black lion photos began to emerge as well. Below we’ll take a look at a few examples of “black lions” along with their unedited versions.

These are claimed to be photos of a rare black lion.

Now let’s take a look at the sources of the three photos above:

Here are the sources from which the edited “black lions” above were created.

There are black cats in existence such as black panthers, which could have been mistaken for lions by some readers. Another explanation for “black lion” sightings could be that of a lion which has recently been covered in mud, as seen in the image below. There have been instances of “black lions” being reported which were merely lions seen in poor light or at night.


There has been some speculation that now-extinct cats could have been classified as black lions, as well as rare mutated individuals whose color may have been black or near-black. You can read about some of these cases at MessyBeast.com.


The trends chart below shows the history for the common Google search “black lion real.” The chart shows peak interest in mid-2012, with smaller peaks in the ensuing years.

Bottom Line

Black lions are not known to exist. The photos shared online are digitally manipulated, and often used to gain likes and shares on social media.

Updated March 16, 2016
Originally published January 2013

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