Explore the legendary story of the man-eating lions of Tsavo (SAH-vo). These two lions are famous for attacking and consuming workers in 1898 at a railroad camp on the Tsavo River, in what is now Kenya. The pair of lions reportedly killed and ate 135 people over the course of nine months. The attacks came to an end when Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson shot and killed the lions in late 1898.
Debate continues over why the Tsavo lions became maneaters, but current research suggests the number of humans they consumed is closer to 35. Field Museum scientists continue to study the lions and what motivated their unusual behavior.
See the Tsavo lions on display in the Museum’s Rice Gallery, located on the west side of the Main Level, and explore the resources below.
Learn more about the Tsavo lions:
Watch an episode of The Brain Scoop where Field Museum MacArthur Curator of Mammals Bruce Patterson examines the lions’ skulls and talks about current research.
The Tsavo Lions LibGuide is a comprehensive resource for accessing our publications, archival collections, and current research related to the Tsavo lions.