Lions are predators (Carnivora) and belong to the subfamily of the big cats (Pantherinae). Their scientific name is Panthera leo. Lions are often called kings of the beasts. Nevertheless, lions are still behind the tiger within the big cat family and are only the second largest predatory cats in the world.
General information about the lion
Adult lions reach a shoulder height of up to 123 centimeters and are 170 to 250 centimeters long. Their tail is about one meter long. In addition they reach a weight of 150 to 225 kilograms. Lions have a relatively large head. Your coat is short and sandy.
The males can be recognized by their long mane. Its color ranges from dark brown and black to a light, reddish brown. A magnificent mane is often a sign that the male lion is well-fed and strong. The lion’s mane does not fully form until early adulthood, when lions are four to six years old.
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What does a lion eat?
Lions are pack animals and therefore hunt their prey in a pack. They eat seven to ten kilograms of meat a day. However, lions do not necessarily need food every day, but can devour up to 40 kilograms at once and then take a break for a few days. Their prey includes mammals – especially antelopes, gazelles, zebras and wildebeests.
How does a lion live?
Unlike most cats, lions are sociable pack animals and live in large groups. They are formed from ten to 15 females, their cubs and two to four adult males. The total pride size may well be up to 30 lions.
The lionesses are thereby mostly among themselves related. With the males rarely a relationship exists among themselves. They remain a part of the lion pride all their lives, while the older males have to submit to the younger, stronger animals in about every four and are then driven out of the pride.
Young males, who have just reached adulthood, are driven out of the pride by older males and join together to form a smaller pride until they themselves fight for the leadership of a new pride and take over the leadership.
The territory of a lion pride lies between 20 and 400 km. With urine and excrement this is marked regularly and is defended by the male animals to the emergency also. If uninvited guests enter the territory of the lions or approach it, the lions call attention to themselves with a loud roar and try to drive away the intruder.
If even foreign, male lions penetrate into the district and win then even the fight for the predominance in the herd, then usually the young animals are killed by the new head. With it the new leader wants to avoid growing up competitors. Old lions usually live all alone and have to be careful not to be killed by younger male lions.
Reproduction and offspring of lions
Lions are sexually mature after 18 months, but mate only after two to three years. With the "Jacobson’s organ, located in the back of the palate, the male lion checks if the female is ready for mating. The male then opens his mouth, pulls back his lips and waits for a signal from the female. The female determines namely, when the mating takes place.
It happens that the leader of the pride mates with all the females of the pride. During the mating season a lion mates with a lioness up to 40 times a day.
The gestation period is then four months. After that, females usually give birth to three to four cubs. They are suckled by the lionesses in the pride for half a year, before they are accustomed to meaty food. The male cubs leave the pride after about 2-3 years, while the young females remain in the pride and soon become pregnant themselves.
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Photo gallery: In the realm of the big cats
Is the lion endangered?
Worldwide still live about 16.000 to 30.000 animals in the wild. Therefore lions are classified as endangered. Lions were hunted by humans for a long time. Especially in the 20. In the nineteenth century hunting was considered a popular sport in Africa. Although the animals are rarely hunted nowadays, hunting is still not completely forbidden.