The Mexican Lion


Historic Accounts of Life in South Texas

From "Early Times in Texas" by J. C. Duval – Published 1892
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Adventures of Jack Dobell

Whilst collecting a supply of fuel for the night, I came upon a heap of brush and leaves, and scraping off the top to see what was beneath, I discovered about half the carcass of a deer which apparently had been recently killed and partly eaten by a panther or Mexican lion, and the remainder "cached" in this heap for future use. Of course, under the circumstances, I had no scruples about appropriating the venison, and calling Brown and Holliday to my assistance we carried it to camp, where, after cutting off the ragged and torn portions of the meat, we soon had the balance spitted before a blazing fire. After making a hearty supper on our stolen venison, we raked a quantity of dry leaves close to the fire and "turned into bed. "

During the night, at various times, we heard the roaring of a Mexican lion (very probably the lawful owner of the larder that had supplied us with supper), and for fear he might be disposed to make a meal of one of us in place of venison, we took good care not to let our fire burn down too low.

There is no animal, I believe, on the American continent, with the exception of the grizzly bear, that has ever been known to attack a man sleeping near a fire. The Mexican lion is, I think, described in books of natural history under the name of puma or South American lion. They are of a tawny or dun color, about the size of the East Indian tiger, have a large round head and a short mane upon the neck. Their nails are very long, sharp and crooked—coming to an edge on the inner side—as keen as that of a knife. Their roar is very similar to that of the African lion.

They are fierce and strong, but cowardly; although when pressed by hunger, they have been known to attack men in open daylight. One instance of this comes within my own knowledge. Several teamsters, with their wagons, were traveling the road from San Antonio to Victoria, and a teamster needing a staff for his ox whip, went to a thicket eighty or a hundred yards from the road to cut one; whilst occupied in cutting down a small sapling with his pocket knife, a Mexican lion stealthily crawled up behind him and sprang upon him before he was aware of its presence. The man's cries for help were heard by one of the teamsters, who hurried to his assistance. The only thing he had in the shape of a weapon was his ox whip, but with that he boldly attacked the lion, which, frightened by his approach and the loud popping of the whip, let go its prey and made a rapid retreat, but the poor fellow he had caught was dreadfully bitten and torn, and it was a long time before his wounds were healed.

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