The scientific name for African lion is Panthera leo. In the wild, they currently live in fragmented populations in Sub-Saharan Africa and prefer grassy plains and savannahs.
Lions are the most social of all cats and are the only ones to live in groups, which are called prides. A pride can be 3 to 40 lions, but the average is around 15 lions. A pride consists of up to 3 males, related females, and their young.
Male cubs leave their maternal pride around 2 to 4 years old. They may go solo or form a coalition with their brothers and cousins and look for their own pride to take over.
Female lions are the primary hunters and they usually work together to take down antelope, zebra, wildebeest, and other large animals. Lions also steal kills from other predators like hyenas, cheetahs, and leopards.
The male’s main job is to defend the territory and protect the pride, but he does hunt sometimes too.
Males will mark their territory with urine. Both males and females will roar as a territorial display. Their roar can be heard up to 5 miles away. I’ve heard a lion roar in a zoo and the sound in person is amazing!
Only male lions have manes. Their mane starts to grow when they are around a year old. It is believed the purpose of the mane is to protect the neck and throat in territorial fights with other lions. Females also seem to prefer lions that have larger and darker manes.
Males are larger than females. They are 3-1/2 to 4 feet tall at the shoulder and 10 feet long with a 2 to 3 foot long tail. Males weigh 330 to 550 pounds and females weigh 265 to 395 pounds.
Lions in zoos may live up to their early 20s. In the wild, females live up to 16 years, but males live only up to 12 years.
Lions sleep about 20 hours per day and usually do their hunting around dusk and dawn.
Check out this video from National Geographic!