If you love Disney’s The Lion King, you probably love lions too. These big cats really do seem royal. Lions are the biggest of the big cats after tigers. Most males weigh around 400 pounds, while females weigh around 290 pounds. The biggest lion ever recorded weighed over 800 pounds! That’s like four of your dad!
Most lions nowadays live in special reserves in Africa. These are places set aside for them where they cannot be hunted or hurt. Less than 300 Asian lions live in the Gir forest in India and another 200 live in zoos. Lions are an endangered species.
- The lion is a muscular, deep-chested, rounded head, a reduced neck, round ears and its fur differs in colour from light buff to silvery grey, yellowish red and dark brown.
- Mane is the most recognisable feature of the lions. When lions are a year old, the mane starts growing.
- The colour of the mane varies and darkens with age; research reveals that its size and colour are influenced by environmental factors, such as average ambient temperature.
- Around 320,000–190,000 years ago, the lion’s mane has evolved.
- Generally, lions consume prey at the location of the hunt but sometimes pull large prey into cover.
- When food is scarce, cubs suffer the most while, all other pride members eat their fill, including crippled and old lions they can live on the leftovers.
- Lions can eat up to 30 kg (66 lb) in one session and they eat their prey themselves. The lions rest for a few hours before continuing to eat if they are unable to consume all of the kills.
- Lions steal kills of cheetahs and leopards and often kill their cubs and even adults when they got chance. Lions tend to dominate cheetahs and leopards.
- In human culture, the lion is the most widely recognised animal symbols. Lions are widely depicted in paintings, sculptures, in contemporary films and literature and on national flags.
- Also, lions are a symbol of strength and nobility in cultures across Europe, Asia and Africa. They are depicted as “king of the jungle” and “king of beasts” and are a popular symbol for royalty, stateliness and sporting teams.
- In the region of sub-Saharan Africa, lions are the common character in their stories, proverbs and dances, but they are rarely featured in visual arts.
- The Lion is also known as Simba in the Swahili language, which means “aggressive”, “king” and “strong”.
- Also, the lion continues to appear in modern literature as the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis characters and many more such characters.
Fun Facts About Lions For Kids
- Lions are the only cats that live in groups called prides. A pride has several females, their cubs and a few males.
- The females do most of the hunting. They work together to bring down prey. This keeps them safer than if they hunted alone.
- Males have an important job too. They patrol their territory and protect the young cubs. They also make sure cubs get enough food.
- Male lions have manes. These manes protect them during fights with other lions.
- Lions are carnivorous. They eat almost anything including antelopes, buffaloes, giraffes, crocodiles, baby elephants, lizards and bugs. They sometimes steal food from other big cats.
- Lions spend a lot of time napping – up to 21 hours each day!
- Royal: A king or queen, prince or princess
- Pride: A lion’s group or family
- Territory: The area set aside for a lion pride
- Mane: The fur around a male lion’s neck
- Carnivorous: Eats meat
Learn More All About Lions
Watch a cool 49 minute documentary video about the lives of wild lions in Africa:
Question 1: How fast can a lion run?
Answer 1: Lions can run very fast for brief periods. A lion can run the length of a football field in six seconds! A lion can run up to 50 mph but only for a very short distance.
Question 2: How do lions take care of their babies?
Answer 2: Male lions watch the cubs while mothers hunt. All the mothers care for and feed babies – even those that aren’t their own.
Question 3: Do lions drink anything else aside from water?
Answer 3: Yes, they eat wild melons when water is scarce in order to get moisture and avoid dehydration.
Question 4: Do Lions live together or Alone?
Answer 4: Lions live together and are very social. A family of Lions is called a Pride. The Pride is headed by a dominant female member.
Question 5: What are baby Lions called?
Answer 5: Baby Lions are called Cubs
Question 6: What do Lions Eat?
Answer 6: Lions love meat and have to have it to survive. In their habitat lions hunt and eat the following – Zebra, Buffalo and even Elephants. A lion will eat almost anything they feel they can overpower, so nothing is too big for a lion to attack. They don’t always succeed with the likes of Elephants and Rhinos but they keep on trying. It goes without saying Lions will eat almost anything that contains meat.
Question 7: Have Lions got any predators?
Answer 7: Yes Lions have predators and unfortunately its us. Lion hunting or Trophy hunting as it is known is still going on today under licence in countries like Zimbabwe and Namibia. It is a shame because there are less than twenty thousand wild lions roaming the African continent (2016) and that compares to over 1.2 million back in 1880.