Scientific Name

Panthera leo



IUCN Redlist Status



Most wild lions can be found in the savannas, grasslands, woodlands and brush in Africa, south of the Sahara desert. There are also a small number in India.


Many lions are now confined to living on reserves in these countries to avoid being poached by humans. On these reserves, they live on open savannas with a few trees across the landscape.


Lions eat a variety of food. They prey on many animals including zebras, buffaloes and giraffes. Often, lions will take the kill of other carnivores such as hyenas. A less widely known fact is that they are also scavengers.


The approximate weight of a lion is 330 - 500 lbs for males and 260 - 350 for females. They are 3.5 - 4 ft tall.


Male lions are easily identified by their long manes, which female lions do not have. Their coats are most always a light to medium brown color. Cubs have dark spots which fade away at about one year old.


The gestation or pregnancy period for a female lion is about 105 - 110 days. The lioness (female lion) will have a litter of about 2 - 4 cubs. Male cubs will leave the pride at around three years old, usually taking over a pride already established by other males. Females stay with the pride they were born into.


Lions' color acts as a camouflage to help it blend into its grassy surroundings in the savanna. They have very strong shoulders and front legs to aid in taking down prey, as well as sharp claws and teeth for hunting. Their roar can be heard as far as five miles away and is used as a warning to help defend their territory. Their manes help to make them look larger and also adds protection to their throats. Their rough tongues make it easier to eat their prey by separating the skin from the flesh. The loose skin around their underbellies helps to protect them during struggles with their prey. If they are bitten or kicked in this area, they are less likely to be seriously injured.

Other Facts

Lions live in groups called prides. The female lions in a pride will do the majority of the hunting and rearing of the cubs, while the males will defend the pride. There may be two or three males in a pride, with one being the most dominant. The dominant male will mate with several females at around the same time. This ensures that the new cubs will be about the same age, so some females can stay and watch over all of the cubs while others are out hunting.