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MGM lion strapped down to film logo? No, photo of lion getting CAT scan

An image posted on Facebook in South Africa seems to show the lion mascot of Metro Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) film studios strapped to a table for its iconic roar to be filmed.

The lion’s head is framed by what looks like a black cardboard cutout bearing MGM’s logo, backwards. The implication is that the lion was mistreated in the filming of the logo.

“My whole childhood is fucked up,” the user who posted the image writes. The post has been viewed more than 1.4 million times so far. 

Does it show the MGM lion strapped to a table while the logo was filmed? We checked. 

Samson the lion undergoing CAT scan in 2005

A reverse image search reveals that the image has been manipulated. The original photo was taken in 2005 and shows a lion undergoing a computerised axial tomography, or CAT, scan. The scans create detailed two-dimensional images of the brain. 

The then two-year-old Barbary lion, named Samson, was kept in a zoo near Tel Aviv, Israel, where it became the first of its species to be treated for a life-threatening skull malformation. 

Since then other lions have undergone CAT scans to get similar treatment. 

MGM lion mascot used since 1924

The MGM mascot, Leo the lion, has been associated with the studio since it first opened in 1924. 

MGM has used several trained lions as its mascot over its history. The first lion, from the silent film era, was filmed looking around without roaring. The roar was added later in 1928 after sound films, known initially as “talkies”, became popular.  

Old photos show that the first lions were filmed standing up in a studio. We could find no evidence that MGM had the lions strapped down to film the logo. – Naledi Mashishi


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