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A Lion's Life
Lions have a social structure that seems to suit them rather well: The Lionesses do most of the hunting and caring for young, and the males protect the pride. The weight may seem off balance here, but keep in mind that there are more lionesses than males, since the latter compete with one another for supremicy. Also, the male lion is at a disadvantage when it comes to hunting, because of his large mane. Although at night this is not a problem, during the daylight hours a lion's mane can be a dead give-away to prey.
When a lion becomes old or weak, a stronger younger male challanges him to a fight. This usually results in the death of the older participant, and the younger male succeeds in gaining control of the pride. However, there is not always just one male gaurding a pride. Sometimes two brothers share the responsibility, or even three or four males get together to watch over a group of lions.
In any one pride there are about 5-35 lions (this may seem like a wide range but the small prides will become larger as time goes by). Each pride has 2-12 females and 2-4 males. Usually the whole pride is related.
Lions are powerful, strong, and lazy :). They sleep up to 20 hours a day, gaining strength, preserving energy, and escaping the heat of the savannah. After they're through napping, the lionesses will hunt.

Lionesses are extremely stealthy hunters. Usually one female will act as a decoy, distressing a herd while the others sneak up and take one out. You'd think this method would be fool proof, but a lion hunt is only succesful about 1 in 4 times. Although very strong, lions are not as fast as their prey, so they must rely on their joint effort and cunning to get a kill. Lions are carnivores, so they don't eat any vegitation. Their main prey is antelope, gazelle, zebra, and wildebeest.
The cats will usually hunt at night when the African temperatures have drastically decreased. While a nomad lion, a lion living on his own, will try for a weakened animal, a group of cats will go for a more robust prey.
After a kill, the males get first dibs, then lionesses and cubs get to eat. Because the cubs are the last in line, many don't survive their first year :(. A full grown lion can eat up to 43 kgs of meat in one sitting, but usually just eat 7 or 8 kgs. However, lions sometimes go up to two days without eating because of bad hunting.

For every one cub, there are 3,000 matings!! In captivity, lions have been tallied at mating 365 times in a week! When lions mate the male usually bites the female on the back of the neck. This is not harmful to the lioness unless the male gets a little carried away, and then some females have been known to be strangled to death. :(
When a lioness is ready to give birth, she will find a secluded place and remain there for about a month. This is a time when her cubs are the most vulnerable. A cub is then weaned at 8 weeks. A female usually has 1-4 cubs. All the lionesses in the pride will act as the cubs' parents, helping out with nursing, playing, and protection.
I know it's sad, but lions will sometimes kill their own cubs. The adult males will kill the younger males if they feel their place is threatened. Maybe they kill just because food is scarce, but often it is for no apparent reason.

Lions are big--the males can reach up to 400 pounds--but they are only the second largest of the big cats. The Siberean Tiger holds the title of the largest of all cats. The big misconception is that lions live in the jungle--this is not true. TIGERS live in the jungles of Asia, LIONS live on the African plain. Still, lions are not far off from being king. The Elephant is probably the true king of the African lands; it has no natural predadtors. The Lion wouldn't dream of messin with an elephant! :) Another lion misconception is that Lions and Hyenas are bitter enemies. Lions are predadtors; Hyenas are Scavangers. This means that hyenas don't kill their own food, they snoop around and steal others. Sometimes they steal lion's food, but so do other big cats. So, they're not the mortal enemies they're made out to be.
One more myth is that a lion is just a vicous beast that's gonna kill you straight off. This is not true; Lions will also kill humans if they're space is invaded or there is little food to be found, but basically, if you stay far enough away, a lion isn't gonna come after you.

For centuries lions have been known to be the symbol of bravery, courage, and strength. Lions are found on many crests of England; they are called ramparts. These creatures are also subject to idioms such as "the lion's share," "lazy lion" and "as brave as a lion." There are many mentions of lions in the Bible; for example the story "Daniel in the Lion's Den." There is one verse in Proverbs that has become my personal motto :) : "The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion."
Lions also play a role in many Greek myths. For instance, the first labor of Hercules was to kill the Lion of Nemean. Griffins are also a part of mythology. A griffin is half lion, half eagle. The Sphynx is half lion, half human. Creatures with strength as their attributes commonly share a part of a lion.
One neat animal that seems too weird to be true is the Tiglon--a cross between a male Tiger and a Lioness. A Tiglon is known as a hybrid animal, because it is produced by the matings of two different species in the same family. Like a horse and a donkey produce a mule, a Tiger and Lion = a Tiglon. The only sad thing is that a Tiglon can't reproduce.

  • Lions purr! Although they do not keep it up continously, when a lion feels affectionate they will purr as they exhale.
  • Lions are the only big cat that can retract its claws.
  • A lion's roar can be heard for 5 miles!
  • Lions used to cover almost the entire earth, before they were hunted down to Africa and a small part of Asia.
  • One type of lions that is now extinct was called The European Cave lion. These lions were very large, with light stripes running down their sides and huge manes. Perhaps they were the ones who made us think that Lions always live in caves.
  • Although African lions are not endangered, the Asiatic lions are, numbering only a few hundred. The Asiatic lion is limited to the Gir Forest in India, a closed place where the lions are trying to be brought back.
This is one of my favorite lion pictures. I call him Methuselah :)