Crazy in the Costa del Sol

“Did you see that?”

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I looked at my wife as we walked up towards the parked car. Her mouth was agape.

“What was that?” she asked. “I don’t think it was a dog.”

“That definitely was not a dog,” I said. It was as big as a large dog, however…

We were walking back from the beach in Puerto Banus in Spain. It’s a small town down the coast from Marbella, in the Costa del Sol, not so magnifico. It was only April, still uncrowded. Dusk was falling. The sunlight was fading away and the shadows were coming out. We had crossed the busy road without getting killed, and turned into a neighborhood of nice single family homes before getting to our apartment complex.

As we walked up the hill on the sidewalk in front of the homes, a man came out of a house with an animal on a leash. He opened the back door of an old car. The animal calmly jumped into the backseat and lay down. The man shut the door and went back into the house.

We were about ten yards away from the car. As we walked past I leaned over to peer in the window. The window was rolled all the way down. I then grabbed my wife’s arm and kept walking, as fast as possible. I looked back over my shoulder to make sure everything stayed the same. No sounds, no movement.

Because in the back seat of that car was a lion. It was not a dog, nor a fantastically large house cat. It was a juvenile lion, not nearly full grown. And I wasn’t sure if it was an African lion (Panthera leo) or a North American mountain lion (Puma concolor). But either way, I didn’t want to find out what would happen when the animal jumped out of the open window.

Where does one get a juvenile lion in Spain? Why put it in the back of your car parked on a street in a neighborhood with the window open? Where was the man going with his lion that night?

We didn’t stick around to find out.

The Lion of Puerto Banus
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