HOLLYWOOD - MGM has announced that they are replacing their Leo the Lion studio logo mascot.
Leo has been MGM's mascot since 1916. He had gone through several lion generations in his colorful 93 year history but due to the sagging economy and dwindling profits they are having to economically downsize.
The board of directors recently voted 11 to 1 to replace Leo the Lion #9, with the more affordable Woody the Woodchuck #1.
Board member Ned Hornbuckle, 52, said that it just makes a lot more sense because with what it takes to feed Leo for one week, they could feed a woodchuck for 32 weeks. Hornbuckle said, "It's just a no brainer."
Another board member Emily La Playa, no age available, added that another consideration is that in the past six months Leo has bitten five individuals including three nuns in training from Detroit who were taking the MGM Studio Tour this past June.
The original Leo, who was named Count Leo Von Stiffenweimer was originally rescued from a Hungarian Traveling Circus that had gone bankrupt due to the Circus Clown Flu Epidemic of 1915.
He was purchased for $7 and half a bottle of Italian Wine.
He was shipped to New York City and then put on a train bound for the MGM Studios in Los Angeles. At the time, the studio was using a picture of a megaphone as their corporate logo.
It was the MGM director's wife who suggested that they replace the megaphone with Leo. At first her husband did not like the idea because he was afraid that Leo would bite some of their movie stars and mess up the filming schedules.
But Fraulein Frieda, as her children called her, persisted and she got her way. The fact that she had told her husband that if he did not grant her wish, she was packing the kids and heading back to Berlin did play a big part in her husband's decision to accept her suggestion.
Throughout the years Leo the Lion has had his share of controversy. In 1934 during the depression, Leo #3, was kidnapped but luckily the Los Angeles Police Department was able to recover him before the kidnappers sold him to a soup kitchen where he would have probably provided the ingredients for about 2,000 bowls of soup.
Then during World War 2, Leo #4, traveled all around the country on a railroad war bond drive. He would travel to the various cities where MGM movie stars such as Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Tallulah Bankhead, and Mimosa Wigglefickle would be photographed on top of Leo posing for pictures at two cents each or three for a nickel.
One night in Cincinnati, while Mimosa Wifflefickle was sitting on top of Leo, a baby in the crowd suddenly screamed out at the top of its lungs, freighting Leo, who took off with Wifflefickle still on his back.
Leo was finally caught four blocks away but not before a Cincinnati Police Officer had nicked him in his left paw. Leo did recover, but after that incident, he would become extremely stressed out anytime that he saw a police officer or an actor dressed as a police officer.
Mimosa Wigglefickle was never the same after that incident. She was unsuccessfully treated for first degree lionbufuchis trauma and ended up giving up her movie career. She moved back to her home in Terre Haute, Indiana, where she went to work as a waitress at an all night donut diner.
After the war Leo #5, actually starred in several Tarzan movies. He was even nominated for an Academy Award for 'Best Supporting Animal' in the Tarzan movie, Tarzan Gets Lucky With Jane.
In 1959, The NFL Detroit Lions offered MGM studios $4,000 to purchase Leo #6, and make him their mascot. The team's mascot Herbert, had gotten loose during a half time animal extravaganza and he was never found.
Years later someone reported seeing him performing in a one-ring traveling circus down in Lima, Peru.
Leo #7, was instantly replaced when it was learned that he was gay. Leo #8, served as the MGM mascot until 2001, when his trainer accidentally gave him some anabolic steroids.
Leo #8, quickly ballooned up to twice his size and as a result he was retired because he began scaring the daylights out of the little kids during the MGM Studio Tours.
SIDENOTE: A representative for MGM has said that the latest lion mascot, Leo The Lion #9, has been placed on eBay.