Blog

The Macquarie Street Lion

By: Dr Sandy Ingleby, Michael Hugill, Category: Science, Date: 10 Dec 2012

The King of the Jungle has made his way from an office in the heart of Sydney's CBD to a new 'den' in the Museum.

The Macquarie Street Lion #4

Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum

In early October I received a phone call and later an email from Peter Hastings QC asking if the Museum would be interested in receiving a lion skin as a donation. I was not sure about the condition of the specimen or how it had been acquired so I asked Mr Hastings to forward me the details and an image.

I had not really known what to expect but when I saw the image of the mounted male Lion (Panthera leo).I was extremely impressed by its excellent condition, the quality of the taxidermy and the detailed documentation that accompanied it.

Why did the Museum accept this donation?

We tend to focus on building our collections of Australian and Pacific mammals as this is our area of expertise, however, we are also mindful of the need to display specimens that have good educational value as well. We have several African Lion mounts in the collection which date back to 1909 and these were extremely popular when they were put on public display recently.

I felt that this Lion would be a valuable addition to the African mammal collection especially given that we know its place of origin and the date it was collected.

How was the lion delivered (it must’ve been quite a sight)?

We transported the Lion from Peter Hastings' office in Macquarie Street, Sydney, to the Museum by carrying it (him) into the lift and then carefully strapping it (with lots of pillows) onto a trayback ute belonging to our public programs section.

A small crowd of onlookers gathered and took photos on their mobile phones as it’s not something you see every day on Macquarie street. As we drove around the block I recall a slight breeze ruffling his mane which also drew comments from pedestrians as we waited at the traffic lights.

What’s involved in processing the lion here at the Museum?

The Lion was first registered into the Museum’s mammal collection. This involved assigning and attaching a unique number to the specimen and recording all the associated information such as its identity (Panthera leo), the date it was acquired and where it came from into an electronic database.

The Lion was then taken to the Materials Conservation fumigation area where it was sealed in plastic and placed in a large freezer to kill any potential pests.

Where is he now?

The Lion is currently stored on site in a collection area where it is can be seen by visitors taking part in our Behind the Scenes tours. We are also considering putting it on display during the Wildlife Photographer exhibition which opens next year.

We're looking to give our new friend a nickname. Can you think of one? Let us know in the comments below.