The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority released statement Saturday morning confirming Jericho’s state-of-being along with a current photograph, taken by researcher Brent Stapelkamp.
CNN had originally reported that Jericho and Cecil the lion were brothers, and that Jericho had taken over the latter’s pride after he was shot and killed by a dentist last weekend. The wildlife authority’s statement clarifies this: “It is important to note that Jericho is a ‘coalition’ partner to Cecil and not a blood related sibling.”
Many people have asked if Jericho and Cecil were brothers. They were not related though their bond was one close to brotherhood. Male lions often form what are termed co-operative ‘coalitions’ with unrelated males in order to better compete with other males for territories and prides. In fact 42% of male lion coalitions are genetically unrelated, though larger coalitions tend to be brothers or half-brothers.
On Facebook, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, who had incorrectly confirmed Jericho’s death yesterday to CNN and a number of other outlets, attributed their error to a case of “mistaken identity.” These things happen.