Previous reports by multiple outlets which purported to show two male lions mating has been debunked.
— Slate's #ICYMIpod bracket is on its Final Four 🏆 (@Slate) April 19, 2016
According to National Geographic, the bottom lion photographed by Nicole Cambre is likely a female African lion with a mane, an animal regularly seen in northern Botswana.
One of the photos shows the two animals rubbing their heads against each other, which is not unusual behavior for males as part of a dominance display, notes Kathleen Alexander, an African lion expert and professor at VirginIa Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg.
As for the mating, “I’ve never seen male-to-male interaction like that, and I’ve been working [in Botswana] for 20 years,” she says. “I would say it’s more likely a maned lioness.”
Slate gave its analysis on the matter in an effort to preserve the original narrative.
But there’s a silver lining to this traditional P-in-V love story—namely, that it’s not so heteronormative after all! A biologically female lion with a mane is a gender ninja, a masculine-of-center nonbinary lion, or some kind of fabulous drag king.
This genderqueer savanna cat will not hem in its gender presentation to conform to your suffocating boxes or your feel-good assimilationist gay love story. This male top is actually maybe vers, and just because his sex partner isn’t femme doesn’t mean he’s gay.
Reaction to this on Twitter was divided.
@Slate regardless, those are the fiercest manes I've seen all season
— Epicurean “openly Black” | BLM (@scifilovr) April 19, 2016
@Slate BS Lions will die as a species if this were the norm.
— Terrence Boggs (@HarrisCountyMC) April 19, 2016
@Slate "who's my mane man?"
— corn 🌽 has been suspended (@cargillbill) April 19, 2016