Is there an African lion on the loose in Costa Rica? That’s a question the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) hopes to answer after reports of a sighting in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí.
If the name didn’t make it immediately obvious, African lions are not native to Costa Rica or to the American continent, explained Rafael Gutiérrez Rojas, executive director of SINAC.
“In Costa Rica, what exists are jaguars and pumas, which are the felines of the largest size,” Gutiérrez said. “If there is actually an African lion, as is claimed, it would correspond to an exotic species that was likely in captivity and escaped.”
SINAC on Thursday interviewed three people — two teenagers and a child — who claimed to have seen the lion. Authorities also shared a photo purporting to show the animal:
Officials are searching for pawprints or other evidence of a lion in the region, though so far they have found “no evidence of the presence of this kind of species.”
In addition, there is no record of permits for the possession of exotic felines in the Sarapiquí area.
“In view of the above, the investigations will continue and the results obtained will be reported in a timely manner,” SINAC said in a statement. “The population is asked to refrain from sharing information from unofficial sources in order not to generate alarm.”
So what do you think? Is there a lion on the loose in Sarapiquí? Is Carole Baskin’s disappeared husband starting a rescue center in Costa Rica? Or are those teenagers just … lyin’?