called the King of Beasts, the lion (Panthera leo) is
the second largest member of the cat family. A large
male lion measures from 9 to 10 feet (2.7 to 3.0 meters),
including the tufted tail, and stands more than 3 feet
(0.9 meter) tall at the shoulders. He can weigh about
400 pounds (180 kilograms). His body is covered with
short yellow-brown hair, and a coarse mane grows on
his head, neck, and shoulders. The mane provides a clue
to the lion's health and protects the lion's neck. Lionesses
do not have a mane and usually are more slender and
about a foot shorter than the male.
have shown that females prefer males with dark manes
but no one his sure why. Might be a good indicator of
health, fathering or stronger in fights.
are social creatures, forming groups called prides,
which may consist of up to 12 related females and their
cubs, and up to six males. Much of the hunting is done
by the lionesses. Lions were once widespread across
Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East, and India.
Now they are largely confined to the plains of East
Africa, with a few scattered colonies elsewhere, including
the Gir Forest in Northern India.
grab and pull down their prey or knock it to the ground
with a body slam. They have the power to take down an
adult cape buffalo. Lions do not chew their food, they
saw off a chunk and swallow it.
lion's roar carries 5 miles or more an serves as a vocal
marker of territory.
gestation period of the lion is 100-119 days.