American lions - not mountain-lions (pumas) but real maned lions - have been reported from time to time and the question of their origin has always intrigued me.
They might be a remnant population of the extinct American lion, but I am doubtful, mainly because of the manes. It seems to be generally felt that the American lion's mane was sparser than that of the African or Asiatic lion.
They may be escapees, but, if so, why are they so numerous and not often reported?
Could they be chow chows? If a witness misjudged the distance, a chow chow could be mistaken for a lion. Up close, however, such an error should not take place.
During the California Gold Rush, a great many lions were imported to entertain the miners by fighting bears. It is possible that there were unreported escapes here, but lions have been reported from pre-Gold Rush days. In Maine, there was even a Native American name for the lion - lunkasoose. (It is not certain that this last was actually a lion). Reports of leonine creatures were made in New York state and Pennsylvania in the 18th Century.
Could there be small breeding populations that have been actually introduced? It's possible, but there is no evidence for any such introduction.
Reports continue to the present day. I can only say that no definite explanation commends itself to me. I am bamboozled. I may have to fall back on Teleportation. The most plausible explanation that strikes me is the escape of a small number of lions that formed a colony and spread. The only trouble is, if they were of the African or Asiatic species, they would spread not singly, but in prides.
Anyone who has any insight into this question is welcome to contact this website. The e-mail address is under that fetching little picture of me on the title page.