The possibility was considered that the Congolese spotted lion may have been part cheetah or a new species of leopard. In The Field No 2887, April 25 1908, Henry Scherren wrote "In all probability the interesting animal now in the lion house of the Zoological Gardens is the only feline hybrid yet exhibited for which the claim has been advanced that it was wild bred. The story of its origin as told to Mr Hamlyn, and given by Mr Pocock in his letter,is of considerable interest; but, in my opinion, the interest will be heightened when the gentleman by whom the animal was consigned to Mr Hamlyn gives us full particulars. On the view that this animal was bred in the Congo, with a lioness for dam, there could have been but two possible sires: the leopard or the cheetah. Mr Pocock has given his reasons for accepting the former, but I think he will admit that there is a superficial resemblance to the latter. Conclusive evidence against the supposition that a cheetah had any share in the parentage - tough it occurred to me when I first saw the animal in her travelling box - is afforded by the size of the head, the massive forelimbs, and the retractile claws.
Certain difficulties, however, present themselves with regard to the story that the animal was wild bred. One was pointed out by Mr Pocock in his remark that 'if representatives of the two species were to meet the encounter would be more likely to end in the death of the leopard than in the establishment of friendly relations between them.' next I cannot equate the appearance of the animal in regard to age and development with the scanty details that have been given to Mr Hamlyn. Granting that it was even two years old when brought by the natives to the French trading settlement, the two years spent in confinement in Africa and the time occupied in the passage to Europe do not, in my opinion, account for the whole span of its existence. And from what I saw of the hybrid before she was unpacked, and afterwards in one of the spacious dens in the lion house, I should have come to the conclusion that she was well used to being exhibited but for the assurance from Mr Hamlyn that this was not the case. Everybody who has seen the animal will agree with Mr Pocock that it is of the highest interest, and it is to be hoped that it will remain in its present quarters."
The Times (Monday May 4 1908) pg. 12: Sale Of A Supposed Congo Hybrid. After having been on view in the lion house at the Zoological Garden for about a fortnight the feline hybrid described in The Times of April 15 was sold by auction at Aldridge's on Saturday. The attendance was very large; among those present were a good many showmen. Bidding began at 100 guineas, and eventually the animal was knocked down by Mr. Bostock at 1,030 guineas. One of the conditions of sale appears somewhat strange for it disclaimed any guarantee as to the animal's breeding, age, or any other description. This would seem to show that the story of the animal, as told to Mr. Hamlyn by the original owner, has not been verified. The story was that the hybrid had been brought as a cub by natives to a French trading settlement somewhere up country from the Gabon, and kept in captivity for about two years before being transported to the West Coast and shipped to Europe in a French boat. At any rate the responsible officials at the Zoological Society do not appear to have been convinced by the story, or they would probably have made some offer for the animal, for which about 500 pounds was asked a fortnight ago. The keepers in the lion house maintain a strong opinion that it was bred in a menagerie; the responsible officials are more reticent on the subject and prefer to wait for evidence as to the place of birth, and the species from which the creature was bred.
In The Field No 2889, May 9 1908, R I Pocock wrote "Sir - Since you were good enough to publish in the Field of April 18 my description of the supposed lion-leopard hybrid with its history as issued to the press by Mr Hamlyn, I should like to give what I am convinced is the true story of its origin and antecedents, so as to lay at rest once and for all the idea that it was a natural product of the French Congo.
''Some years ago, three hybrids, one male, two female, were bred in Chicago from a male jaguar and an Indian leopardess, and were bought by the proprietor of an American traveling show of performing animals. The male was killed by a lion, but the females lived, grew to the size of a jaguar, and when adult were mated with a young lion, choosing him, it is said, in preference to male leopards. Several litters were born, each consisting of two cubs. These resembled a lion in general colour, but were spotted. In the case of every litter the spots of one cub were like those of the jaguar, and the others like those of a leopard. The males were without mane. At the end of last year, some of these animals, then about three and a half years old, were alive in the United States.
These facts I can vouch for on first hand authority. My conviction that the animal recently exhibited in the Zoological Gardens is one of those hybrids with jaguar-like spots is a conclusion deduced from a combination of circumstances, partly from a knowledge of the recent importation by Mr Bostock from America of a number of animals for the exhibition at Earl's Court, partly from a clue supplied to me by Mr Carl Hagenbeck, who predicted almost to the letter the outcome of the sale, partly from overheard remarks let drop at the auction at Aldridge's, and finally from the fact that the animal was knocked down to Mr Bostock for a sum representing ten times its market value. With the above-mentioned facts before them, your readers will be able to piece in the details of the entire transaction without further comment on my part. From a scientific standpoint the animal gains interest from a knowledge of its true nature. Not suspecting three species to be involved in its parentage, I was not quite right in determining it as a lion-leopard hybrid, although the spots, as I stated, obviously recall those of a jaguar, I dismissed that species in considering its pedigree on account of its comparatively slender build and the great length of the tail. He elimination of the shortness of the tail and of the sturdiness in shape of the jaguar is not surprising, however, seeing that these characters are only found in one out of the three parent forms.
The male lijagulep hybrid was killed by a lion while on display in Glasgow. In his comparison of a leopon with a lijagulep, R I Pocock wrote in The Field (2nd Nov 1912): The nearest approach to [a lion-leopard] hybrid hitherto reported is the one bred at Chicago between a male lion and a female cross between a jaguar and a leopard, the true story of which, accompanied by a good figure by Mr Frohawk, may be found in the Field for April 18 and 25, and May 9 1908. The final episode in the history of that animal has, I believe, not yet been told. After being exhibited in the Zoological Gardens and at the White City it went to Glasgow, where, according to a sensational Press notice, it was killed by a lion, which broke down the partition between the cages and made short work of its opponent. That this story was of a piece with the original account of the hybrid given out when it first appeared on the market may be inferred from the condition of the dressed skin, which had no sign of a tear or scratch upon it in London shortly after the alleged tragedy. The chief difference between this hybrid of three species and the lion-leopard born at Kolhapur lies in the size of the spots, those of the [lijagulep] being large and jaguar-like, as might be expected, while those of the [leopon] are small and more leopard-like.
The skin of the killed lijagulep went on sale in London shortly after the alleged tragedy and it appears to be this skin that is displayed as a lion/jaguar hybrid at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring, England.
A mounted specimen labelled as a lion/jaguar hybrid is displayed at the Rothschild Museum in Tring, England. This is the closest we have to an impression of how the Congolese Spotted Lion may have looked when alive. The age of the specimen suggests it is the skin of the female lijagulep killed in Glasgow. Hemmer identified a museum specimen as being either lion x jaguar or being lion x (leopard x jaguar).
Leopards have been hybridized with jaguars to produce jaguleps (also known as leguars or lepjags), one such was the dam of the lijagulep. As mentioned in the quote from The Times as evidence in favour of the cat being a hybrid, leopards had also been crossed with pumas (see pumapards).
In general, hybrids are no longer bred by zoos as the current emphasis is on conservation of pure species. The only hybrid big cats commonly and deliberately bred in recent times are ligers. It is unlikely that further lijaguleps will be bred.