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Panthera leo

The Lion is known as "King of the Beasts" because of their strong, regal appearance. They are a tan color that allows them to blend in to the African grasslands that they live in. Male lions have big, bushy manes around their faces like the one in the picture above. The manes make them look really big so that they can scare off other males that might want to fight them. Female Lions do not have manes. Both sexes are very muscular and powerful. They have very long teeth and claws that they use to catch and eat their prey. Male lions are about 7 feet long and can weigh up to 550 lbs. Females are a bit smaller.

Unlike most big cats, Lions are social and like to live in groups called prides. A pride of Lions
is made of one or more families and can have up to 37 members. There may only be one male to a pride but usually there are a few. The males are very territorial, which means that they don't like it when Lions they don't know get into their pride's space. Male Lions will fight outsiders in order to keep their pride. If they are defeated, the intruding male Lion may take over the pride. Females are called Lionesses. The Lionesses do most of the work within the pride. They do the hunting to feed the pride. Their favorite prey is zebra, but they also eat antelopes and impalas, which are animals that look a bit like deer. Lionesses prefer to hunt zebras because they are slower than antelopes and impalas. Here's how they catch their prey. A group of Lionesses will stalk the prey.. slowly sneaking up on it. They close in from all around so that the zebra or impala cannot run away without confronting a hungry Lioness! Then, one of the Lionesses will spring towards the prey and when it starts to run away, the other Lionesses will pounce on it. When the prey is dead, the big male Lion will appear to carry the food back to the rest of the pride. He will eat before the females and cubs.

Lionesses also take care of the cubs. Each Lioness can have up to 5 cubs at a time. Lionesses share the responsibility of raising their young and often feed and clean eachother's cubs. When the cubs are first born, they have spots. Eventually their spots fade away as they grow toward adulthood. When they reach about 2 years old, the male cubs are seen as adults and are pushed out of the pride by the older male(s). They will go out on their own in search of their own pride. The female cubs usually stay in the same pride as their mother.

photo courtesy of JES Exotics Sanctuary

Click here to hear the sound a lion makes. It may take a few seconds to download.

Here are some cool facts about Lions:

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