The King of the Jungle

The African Lion, or Panthera leo, live in the grasslands, scrub, and open woodlands in Southern Sahara to South Africa (also known as the sub-Saharan Africa).

subsaharan.jpgPhotograph taken from:

Photograph taken from:

Fun fact: the African Lion is the second largest cat in the world! In general, male lions tend to be larger than females and have a distinctive mane of hair that encircles their heads. Not only is the mane’s function to protect the male’s neck during fights over territory or mating rights, but it also allows the male to look more impressive to females and more intimidating to other males.




Like mentioned previously, the males and females differ in size. For instance, in regards to body length, the males are 67 to 98 inches long. On the other hand, females are 35 to 69 inches long. In addition, there is a difference in the length of their tails. The tail length of the males is 39 to 41 inches long while the female’s tail length is 27 to 39 inches long. Furthermore, the male is about 49 inches tall and the female is about 42 inches tall. Moreover, the male can weigh up to 330 to 530 pounds and the female can weigh up to 270 to 400 pounds.

male-female-bci_480x360        Photograph taken from:

Unlike other cats, the African Lion is a very social animal. These animals live in groups called prides that are made up of around thirty lions. Prides are family units that consist of about three males, a dozen or so related females, and their young. The female cubs typically stay with the group as they age. On the other hand, however, young males eventually leave and establish their own prides by taking over a group headed by another male.  Interestingly, the size of the pride is determined by the availability of food and water. Therefore, if resources are scarce, then the pride becomes smaller.

Pride members keep track of one another by roaring. Having one of the largest and most powerful calls in the animal kingdom, the roar of both males and females can be heard up to 8km away. The male lion roar is deeper and louder than the female’s. The African Lion roar to warn other prides to keep their distance from their own territory, to indicate strength and size, and to let other lions know where they are. You can mostly hear lions roaring just before sunrise and sunset when they are most active.


Photograph taken by me at the Brookfield Zoo

Males and females take on very different roles in the pride. Male lions spend their time guarding their territory and their cubs. They maintain the boundaries of their territory by roaring (like mentioned previously), marking it with urine, or chasing off intruders. On the other hand, female lions are known to be the pride’s primary hunters by working together to prey upon antelopes, zebras, wildebeest, and other large animals of the open grasslands. Since their prey tend to be faster than the lions themselves, working in a team is beneficial. Although after a successful hunt, all the lions in the pride share the meal, there is a pecking order such that the adult males take first claim, followed by the lionesses, and then finally, the cubs.

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Photograph taken from:

Another fun fact: lions are the laziest of the big cats! They spend about sixteen to twenty hours of the day either sleeping or resting. African Lions are mainly crepuscular and nocturnal.

Pride resting.jpg

Photograph taken from:


Photograph taken by me from the Brookfield Zoo

Unfortunately, African Lions are considered vulnerable of extinction by the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). Major threats to these lions include: loss and fragmentation of habitat, killed by humans in bravery rituals (hunting trophies, medicinal powers, or by ranchers protecting their livestock), and diseases. Conservation Programs include: CZS Conservation, The Chicago Zoological Society administers the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Endangered Species Fund, the Lion Research Center in University of Minnesota, and more.

Photographs taken by me from the Brookfield Zoo


Photograph taken by me at the Brookfield Zoo




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