HomeOutdoorsNewsLegendary Lion ‘Bob Junior’ Killed by Younger Rivals

Legendary Lion ‘Bob Junior’ Killed by Younger Rivals

by Caitlin Berard
Bob Junior the Lion (Left) With His Brother Tryggve
(Photo by Stefano Bonfoco via Getty Images)

Bob Junior, the iconic lion known for being the most “photogenic” and “coolest cat” in the Serengeti, has been killed by a trio of younger rivals in the newcomers’ quest for dominance.

Dubbed the “king of the Serengeti” for his Hollywood good looks and sovereignty over his territory, Bob Junior spent the past seven years as the real-life Lion King. His brother, Tryggve, also known as Marley, ruled by his side.

Recently, however, a new group of lions set their sights on the throne, bringing down both Bob Junior and Marley in a brutal mauling.

On Saturday, wildlife officials discovered Bob Junior, named after his father, Bob Marley, dead at 10 years old.

“[The rival lions] wanted to overthrow Bob Junior,” Serengeti conservation officer Fredy Shirima told the BBC. “These incidents normally happen when the head of a pride becomes old. Or sometimes when the other male lions are not happy with his control over a large territory.”

The conservation officer added that officials suspect Marley met the same fate. His official cause of death, however, remains undetermined pending an investigation. Initial reports suggest Bob Junior and Marley were killed in separate coordinated attacks.

Tributes Pour in for Bob Junior, the Beloved Lion King

Ten years old might seem young, but it’s actually a ripe old age in the world of wild lions. While females tend to live a little longer (15-16 years), males live a mere 8-10 years.

In addition to attacks from humans and other lions, they frequently suffer gorings or brutal kicks from prey while hunting. In captivity, away from the dangers of the wild, they live a much longer 25 years.

An old man in lion years, it appears that Bob Junior knew his time had come. He reportedly didn’t attempt to fight off the younger lions when they attacked. Following his passing, locals and tour operators at the Serengeti National Park paid tribute to Bob Junior, also known as Snyggve.

“Many have travelled long distances to catch a glimpse of the legendary lion with a distinctive and luxuriant black mane – King of the Serengeti (Snyggve) Bob Jr.,” safari company Asilia Africa wrote in tribute to the late lion.

Affectionately calling Bob Junior “one of Africa’s most iconic lions,” the company honored him as an “honorary member of the Asilia family.”

“As a descendant from a dynasty of significantly impressive male lions, Bob Jr. and his equally dominant coalition partner, (Tryggve) Marley, reigned over the eastern plains for many years, sharing an incredible journey of pride takeovers and losses.”

Wildlife photographer Stephen Bonfoco has been snapping breathtaking photos of Bob Junior and Marley for years. “It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “I have lost a friend.”