The internet was shocked and saddened by reports Saturday that Jericho, “brother” of Cecil the lion, had been illegally gunned down. But you can dry your tears, because a researcher monitoring the pride confirmed to Reuters that Jericho is alive and well.
It all started on Facebook. “It is with huge disgust and sadness that we have just been informed that Jericho, Cecil’s brother has been killed at 4pm today,” the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said in a statement.
“We are absolutely heart broken,” the group added.
Johnny Rodrigues, head of the task force, told CNN that Jericho was “gunned down” by an illegal poacher.
“I’m very gutted, I’m very disappointed, I’m heartbroken. It’s just too much,” he told USA Today.
Rodrigues can rest easy. “He looks alive and well to me as far as I can tell,” said Brent Stapelkamp, a field researcher for the Hwange Lion Research Project, which is monitoring the lion with a GPS tag.
Stapelkamp said readings from Jericho’s tag indicated he was moving around as usual and appeared to be with a female.
“When I heard that report, I had a look on the computer and his movements look regular. He sent a GPS point from his collar from 8:06 p.m. Everything looks fine,” Stapelkamp told Reuters.
Officials were investigating if another lion had been killed around the time Cecil was shot dead, the Telegraph reported. An unidentified foreign hunter killed the second lion illegally on July 3, a park official told Reuters.
Jericho is not Cecil’s brother by blood, but the two males worked together to hold territory.
Cecil (pictured above) was illegally killed earlier this month by an American dentist with an affinity for big game hunting. The incident sparked an outpouring of public grief, and demands for the dentist’s extradition and punishment.
The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misidentified Jericho as Cecil’s brother. The two males are not related by blood.