African Lion African Lion
African Lion

Scientific Classification

Common Name
African lion
Genus Species
Panthera (panther, leopard) leo (lion)

Fast Facts

Short-haired, tawny cat; black tail tuft, ears, and lips; newborns with grayish spots which fade to adult color by three months
Male:  At maturity, exhibit blond to black manes
Male: 1.7 to 2.5 m (5.5 to 8 ft.), and 1.2 m (4 ft.) at the shoulder
Female: 1.4 to 1.7 m (4.5 to 5.5 ft.), and 1.06 m (3.5 ft.) at the shoulder
Male: 150 to 250 kg (330 to 550 lbs.)
Female:  120 to 180 kg (265 to 395 lbs.)
Antelopes, gazelles, warthogs, smaller carnivores, and occasionally Cape buffalo, giraffe, and young elephants
98 to 105 days; on average 2 to 4 cubs born
Sexual Maturity
Male: 5 years
Female: 4 years
Life Span
Up to 30 years in captivity, 15 years average
sub-Saharan Africa
Grasslands and semi-arid plains
Global: Unknown
IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. Lions are the only truly social cat species, and usually every female in a pride of 5 to 37 individuals is closely related.
  2. An adult lion's roar can be heard up to five miles away and warns off intruders or reunites scattered pride members.
  3. While lions are inactive up to 21 hours a day, in the darkest, coolest hours of early morning the "queens of beasts" hunt as a team to catch a communal meal.
  4. Pride lionesses frequently enter breeding season together and later give birth at the same time which allows them to share nursing and other maternal duties.
  5. Although only one out of four hunting events is successful, dominant males always eat first, lionesses next, and cubs scramble for scraps and leftovers.

Ecology and Conservation

Lions are the largest African carnivores and a hungry lion pride feeds on many animals that pass through or share its home range. As specialized communal predators, a pride's role includes keeping herbivore populations in balance with the resources available in their area of the plains.


Benyus, Janine M. Beastly Behaviors. New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1992.

Bertram, Brian. Pride of Lions. New York: Scribner's, 1978.

Estis, Richard D. The Safari Companion. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Co., 1993.

Kingdon, Jonathan. East African Mammals, An Atlas of Evolution in Africa. Vol. 3, Part A. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1977.