The Brisbane Lions have backed away from a controversial idea to use a real lion as a mascot.

A report by Caroline Wilson in The Age yesterday that the Lions’ new CEO Gregg Swann was considering bringing a live lion to games — and had actually sent his marketing team out to local zoos to investigate the logistics of the idea — sent the Twittersphere into meltdown, leading Swann to back away from the idea in a just-released statement.

“There has been a fair amount of hysteria today around the idea of having a real lion at our home games next season,” the statement reads.

“Let me be clear in saying it is an idea and only that. It is one of a number of initiatives we have discussed as part of planning for the 2015 season, and it has found its way into the media.

“Animal welfare would always be the overwhelming priority in any such idea, but let me stress we are only at a conceptual stage at the moment.

“With the lion set to feature prominently as part of our 2015 marketing campaign, and with the ‘old’ lion returning to the guernsey next season, we simply asked ourselves whether we might be able to add the “real thing” to a match day experience.

“Given the reaction today, we are mindful that people have strong views and we will take that into consideration as we continue to plan for next season.”

And just like that, a brief — yet incredibly strange and memorable — chapter in Australia’s sporting history comes to an end.

Or does it…