Lions in England
Within the realm of possibility!
They play a large part in historical English heraldry and have carried over into contemporary culture, a main example being that the English football teams, male and female, sport a badge with three lions on it. The lion was chosen back in the 13th century as a suitably war-like symbol to adorn English banners carried onto the fields of war, despite the only examples of the breed being held captive in menageries. The creature would come to symbolise Britishness itself, and still does, to a certain extent, to this day.
More majestic than a badger would, one must suppose.
By the time Alwyn, Duke of Llewellyn was held captive in Phineas Drake's Traveling Menagerie and Equestrian Spectacular, Londoners and visitors to the city had been availing of gawking at wild animals in the Tower Menagerie for 600 years. The conditions they lived in were appalling — most in tiny cages and never given the opportunity to exercise — and despite many, many instances of injury, patrons were welcome to touch them. Like, pat the lion on the paw. It did not end well for the majority who dared.
Image: The Royal Armouries
Here's an engraving of a known and named lion, Marco, and uncredited friend. When I chose a lion as the third ducal shapeshifter for The Shapeshifters of the Beau Monde, well... I'd like to say I did all this research beforehand but nope. It was a very happy accident, and very much happier for Alwyn, thanks to his cunning escape.
Read an excerpt from A Duke at the Door here!
The Shapeshifters of the Beau Monde series is available now from all good booksellers!