Why did the analysis of the false lioness take so long?: Animal filmmaker explains how a wild boar video fooled all of Germany
For a day and a half, a video fooled the whole of Germany: The lioness, who allegedly made the forests unsafe in the south of Berlin and Brandenburg, is actually supposed to be a wild boar. The renowned wildlife filmmaker Hans-Jürgen Zimmermann explains how this absurd mix-up could have happened. And wonders.
The journalists’ jaws dropped when Kleinmachnow’s Mayor Michael Grubert declared the supposed lioness, who seemed to be making the Brandenburg community and southern Berlin unsafe for a day and a half, shortly after 1 p.m. on Friday afternoon with a short sentence as a suspected wild boar. No more lioness, no more danger. And no dramatic story in the media summer slump.
But how could such a mix-up come about in the first place – and over a relatively long period of time?
“All cats are gray at night”
The only pictures taken of the animal were taken by local residents in the smallholder settlement on Richard-Strauss-Weg in Kleinmachnow. They were made with a cell phone around midnight from Wednesday to Thursday. An animal can be seen for six seconds, which, illuminated by a cone of headlights, seems to be busy on the ground behind a bush, half hidden.
FOCUS online showed the recording to wildlife filmmaker Hans-Jürgen Zimmermann, who has been producing wildlife and nature documentaries for domestic and foreign television stations for around 40 years. “All cats are gray at night,” says Zimmermann, alluding to the difficult lighting conditions in the dark, and thinks that inexperienced animal observers “may be able to conclude from the display of a mobile phone that the animal that can be seen here is a lioness.” But that’s about all that could speak for it.
Animal filmmaker Zimmermann: “A lioness? Nah, impossible.”
But when he looked at the recordings in large format on a computer screen, he immediately thought: “A lioness? Nope, impossible.” The recording sequence is “very short” and it doesn’t help that the animal is half covered by bushes. “But a lioness has a completely different back and thighs, she is built much more gracefully than a wild boar.” Wild boars, on the other hand, are more round and do not have a back that is bent downwards, but rather a hump and a shorter tail than lions.
If he hadn’t known beforehand, as in this case, that the animal on the video was initially mistaken for a lioness, he might have imagined something else. “Certainly not a wolf, maybe a strong mongrel dog. Or a half-strong brown bear. In any case, that would be more appropriate than a lioness.”
In the end, however, Zimmermann also came to the conclusion that this was more of a wild boar. “The fur seems to be light – as is the case with older wild boars. And maybe the animal was just wallowing in the mud somewhere, which would also make it appear lighter.”
Why did expert judgment take so long?
What Zimmermann, on the other hand, and many bewildered journalists at the press conference, could not explain is why it took a day and a half before two independent experts came to the same conclusions as he did. “Berlin has a huge zoo and countless animal experts. How can it be that there was no one who found out about it yesterday?” the experienced wildlife filmmaker wonders. And speaks of “much ado about nothing”, which should also have cost a whole lot of money.
On Saturday there are fecal and hair analyzes from an unknown animal
The municipality of Kleinmachnow had asked two independent animal experts for an opinion on the disputed species – one of them comes from South Africa. Both would have analyzed the body shape and posture of the animal shown on the video. And both had come to the conclusion that it could not be a lion.
During the search for the alleged lioness, the emergency services also found feces and hair samples that are apparently assigned to the animal they are looking for. They were sent to the Leibniz Institute in Berlin for analysis. The results should be available on Saturday. In any case, the danger warning for the adjacent areas around Kleinmachnow was officially lifted on Friday afternoon and the emergency services moved away.