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Lion (African)

 

Panthera leo

The lion is a member of the cat family. Though they can vary in color, their muscular bodies are typically covered with sandy yellowish-brown coats. Mature male lions have a thick mane that encircles their neck and covers the backside of their head and shoulders. The mane hair is stiff and wiry, protecting the male while fighting.

Sizelion picture

Length: Males: Average 9 feet Females: Average 8 feet
Height: Males: Average 36 inches Females: Average 30 inches
Weight: Males: From 350 - 500 lbs. Females: From 250 - 400 lbs.

Life span

12-16 years in the wild

Diet

Lions are carnivores. They will eat hoofed animals, rodents, reptiles, insects, birds, even crocodiles, baby elephants and rhino's. Lions will also scavenge and steal prey from other animals.

Population

The wild lion population in Africa is estimated anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 (almost half what is was in the 1950's).

Range

Lions used to be found in Asia, Europe to India, and most of Africa. Their range has been considerably reduced to eastern and southern Africa with small populations of subspecies in a wildlife sanctuary in India.

Behavior

Lions live in social groups called "Prides" consisting of anywhere from 3-40 lions. Prides are made up of mothers, sisters, cousins, cubs, and a few unrelated adult males. The lionesses do most of the hunting as groups while the males patrol, mark and guard the prides territory. Lions are mainly nocturnal hunters. They spend most of the day (about 20 hours!) lying in the shade, resting and sleeping.

Reproduction

After a gestation period of almost 4 months, the female lion will give birth to a litter of 2-6 cubs. They weight up to 3 pounds and are about a foot long. Once introduced to the Pride, the lionesses work together to rear the cubs.

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