Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle…when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
1. Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides. There are usually from one to three males and up to a dozen lionesses who are all typically related. Female cubs stay with the pride throughout their lives while young males eventually leave to establish their own pride. There is generally lots of affectionate head rubbing, licking and purring within the pride; however, there is always a well-established hierarchy amongst its members.
2. Lionesses do the majority of hunting for the pride and work together in teams to take down their prey. Common lion prey include zebra, antelope, impala and wildebeest. After a kill, typically the male eats first, then the females, and the cubs get the leftovers…if there are any.
3. The primary role of the male lion is to defend the pride’s territory and to reproduce. A younger male from outside the pride may challenge an older male. When this happens, the new male, sadly, will often kill any cubs in the pride to ensure all offspring will have his genes.
4. Only male lions have manes. The purpose of the mane is unknown, but it might be to help the lions look larger and more fierce.
5. Lions are the second largest cat of the feline species (the tiger is the largest). Adult lions weigh between 265-500 pounds. A cub weighs just 2-4 pounds at birth.
6. You can hear a lion’s roar up to five miles away.
7. Lions are excellent swimmers.
8. Even though the lion is sometimes called the King of the Jungle, they do not live in jungles; they live in grasslands where their tawny coat helps camouflage them.
9. Lions can sleep up to 20 hours a day.
10. Lions have an average span of 15 years in the wild, and up to 30 years in captivity.