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Lion-roaring contests, and scholars

Lion-roaring competitions used to be private affairs, organised entirely by lions, without spectators. That changed in the early 1990s, when Karen McComb [pictured here], Jon Grinnell, Craig Packer and Anne Pusey realised they could use technology – loudspeakers, amplifiers, and sometimes a stuffed artificial lion – to stage-manage some lion-roaring contests, and to document those ginned-up events on video.

The foursome wanted to answer a question: When lions hear other lions roar, what do they do?

McComb was based at the University of Cambridge, Grinnell at the College of Wooster and at the University of Minnesota, and Packer and Pusey at Minnesota. The roaring contests, though, were held in Tanzania….

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

BONUS: Gaby, Africa destination expert for Kensington Tours, speaks fondly of lion-roaring contests.

BONUS: A photo of Alfred Hitchcock directing the MGM lion:

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