Lions are majestic. They are described as the king of the jungle. And, we are fascinated with them. We love to watch the movie, “The Lion King,” journeying with Simba as he grows from youth to adulthood. And, it is no wonder. Lions are strong. They are beautiful with light golden coats. And they are big! An adult lion weighs between 400 and 425 lbs. They live about 10-15 years, but in the wild, lifespans are reduced due to injury and fighting. And, speaking of fighting, have you ever wondered what a lion’s mane does? It protects them during fights!
Not all lions are the same. Did you know that the majority of lions kept in zoos are hybrids of different subspecies? About 77% of captive lions are of unknown origin. Nonetheless, they might carry genes that are extinct in the wild, and therefore might be important to maintain overall genetic variability of the lion. It is believed that those lions, imported to Europe before the middle of the nineteenth century, were mainly either Barbary lions from North Africa or lions from the Cape.
Many lions are in zoos, but there are still free-roaming lions in Africa and India! In Africa, lions can be found in savanna grasslands with scattered Acacia trees, which they use as shade. Their habitat in India is a mixture of dry savanna forest and very dry deciduous scrub forest. The habitat of lions originally spanned the southern parts of Eurasia, ranging from Greece to India, and most of Africa except the central rainforest-zone and the Sahara desert. This little girl got up close and personal with a zoo lion! It is a bit scary but it is also fascinating to watch this majestic creature. Watch what happens when this lion meets a little girl!
Most lions now live in eastern and southern Africa, and their numbers there are rapidly decreasing, with an estimated 30–50% decline per 20 years in the late half of the twentieth century. Estimates of the African lion population range between 16,500 and 47,000 living in the wild in 2002–2004, down from early 1990s estimates that ranged as high as 100,000 and perhaps 400,000 in 1950. Primary causes of the decline include disease and human interference. Habitat loss and conflicts with humans are considered the most significant threats to the species.
TEN TRIVIA FACTS ABOUT LIONS
10. African lions are the most social of all big cats and live together in groups or “prides.” A pride consists of about 15 lions. 9. Male lions defend the pride’s territory while females do most of the hunting. Despite this, the males eat first. 8. These majestic cats are threatened by habitat loss. The lion is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 7. The lion was once found throughout Africa, Asia and Europe but now exists only in Africa with one exception. The last remaining Asiatic lions are found in Sasan-Gir National Park in India, which was primarily created to protect the species. Currently, there are approximately 350-400 lions in the park. 6. A lion’s roar can be heard from as far as 5 miles away. 5. A lion can run for short distances at 50 mph and leap as far as 36 feet. 4. Even though the lion is sometimes referred to as the “king of the jungle,” it actually only lives in grasslands and plains. The expression may have come from an incorrect association between Africa and jungles or may refer to a less literal meaning of the word jungle. 3. A good gauge of a male lion’s age is the darkness of his mane. The darker the mane, the older the lion. 2. A lion’s heels don’t touch the ground when it walks. 1. A lion may sleep up to 20 hours a day.
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