Lion

Of all the big cats the lion has always held a supreme place in mans esteem and imagination. Yet for all it�s glory the lion is only the second largest of the big cats the tiger being the largest. The male�s impressive size, luxurious mane and magnificent roar has been admired by man since the beginning of time. This is why he is the king of beasts.

Lions are the only large cat species that are social. They live in family groups called prides. They depend on each other for hunting, raising offspring, defense and companionship. A pride consists of anything between 5 � 40 members. Lionesses tend to stay in the pride they are born in. This makes the group a collection of sisters, aunts, mothers and grandmothers who have grown up together. Males are expelled from the pride as soon as they have reached maturity � nature�s way of controlling in-breeding in the pride. The resident male lion(s) contributes to the pride by maintaining stability by protecting the pride from dangerous intruders.

Females tend to do most of the hunting for the whole pride. They hunt co-operatively with each female taking on a different role. The smaller females on the sides of the group would chase the prey to the larger females who would be waiting in ambush. The larger females would then make the kill. When the lionesses make a kill, the male lion would eat first leaving the ladies and cubs in the sideline waiting for him to finish. This seems to be the only time tensions exist in this family group as the rest of the time they are indeed very social, grooming each other and greeting each other with an affectionate rub of heads.
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A lions will spend approx 21 hours a day sleeping, napping and resting.

A male �s reign in a pride is generally very short lived. Males would not lead a pride for more than 2 or 3 years at which stage a younger more powerful male would challenge his seniority. The ensuing fight could result in serious injury or death. The new male would then kill all the cubs in the pride. Three weeks after the females cubs have died she will be back in estrus, he would then mate with her so that he can bring his blood into the pride. They make good fathers but very bad stepfathers.

Background info
Lions have a lifespan of 12-16yrs in the wild and 25yrs in captivity.

Adult body length � 1.7 to 1.9 meters, tail length 70-150cm, Shoulder height 80cm to 1.1meters

Weight: male150-225kg, Female 120-150kg

 
Lionesses, gives birth to 2-5 cubs, gestation period of 100-116 days. The cubs are cared for by all females, and will suckle from other females as well as from their mother. 14% � 73% of all lion cubs die before they reach the age of two. The cubs are born with spots.

One of the few animals that will attack lions are hyenas, which will kill an injured lion, or if food is scarce, will occasionally attack healthy one. Lions and hyenas also have been known to kill each other in fights over prey.