What are Lions?
Lions are one of the largest species of the big cats. Because of this, and because they have no predators other than human hunters, they are frequently called the kings of the jungle.
There are two types of lions, Asiatic and African. They get these names based on where in the world they can be found. For instance, African lions live in Africa, and Asiatic lions live in India.
Lions are one of the biggest big cats, and they stand quite tall. Their bodies can grow 8 feet in length and they can sometimes weigh up to 500 pounds. Male adult lions are much larger than female adult lions as well.
They generally have short haired coats in a solid tan color. They have very large paws and tufted tails, which means that the ends of their tails have additional, darker fur.
In lions, it is easy to tell the males apart from the females when they are adults, because male adult lions have large manes, which is a lot of dark, long hair that grows out of their head and goes partway down their back.
Female lions do not have manes, and baby male lions do not have manes yet. So it can be difficult to tell baby male and female lions apart.
Asiatic lions live in one very specific region of India—the Gir Forest. Unfortunately, the Asiatic lions are rarer than African lions because they are endangered.
What Do Lions Eat?
Lions exclusively eat meat, which certainly makes them carnivores! Because they have no natural predators, lions are considered to be at the top of the food chain, which means they can basically eat any other animal that they want.
Because they live in large groups, called prides, that hunt together, and because of their large paws, long claws, and massive teeth, they can eat very large animals, including buffalo, zebras, giraffes, and antelopes.
Lions have even been observed in the wild to make prey out of incredibly large animals, like elephants and rhinoceros!
Taking Care of Offspring
Like many other cat species, lion offspring are referred to as cubs. Because lions live in large groups, the pride’s cubs will all be taken care of together, by all of the lions in the pride.
All of the female lions in the group, called lionesses, will help take care of all the cubs.
Female lions are able to grow up and stay with the pride that they were born into, unless they find a new mate outside of the pride.
Male lions, after being taken care of the by pride for the first 2-3 years of their lives, will leave to start their own pride.
Additional Cool Facts
- Even though many cats are known for their general dislike of water, lions are very good swimmers.
- Lions stand taller than tigers, but tigers on average weigh more than lions do.
- Lions have very loud roars that are strong enough to be heard miles away.