The tough African Lion is one of Africa's top predators. Unlike most other big cats, lions stay together in a pride. The pride consists mainly of one or two males, several females, and their young. While most other big cats are solitary and live alone, lions prefer to hunt and feed in prides.
Lions are second only to the Siberian Tiger in size. They are a beautiful golden brown, although some have a rare coloring of white which usually is found in Asian Lions.
African Lions are cooperative hunters and will use teamwork to take down a large animal. Lions will eat almost anything they can get a hold of. Although their diet consists mainly of wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, gazelle, and antelope, they will also catch birds, hares, and even young elephants and giraffes if they can get a hold of them.
The female lions are the pride's primary hunters, and they will teach their cubs how to hunt as well. The males may help with the hunting once and awhile, but mainly their job is to protect the pride from intruders and guard their territory from other lions or hyenas.
Hunting is a dangerous time for lions. They will often crouch in the grass in different places. They try to create panic in large herds, and in the confusion some of the herd will get separated. Lions will pick off the weakest of the animals and go for them, working together to take their prey down. They must be careful though, as buffalo and wildebeest are well equipped and may kick or ram the lions with their horns.
When hunting solitary prey, lions will crouch down in the grass, creep up close, and chase their prey into a hidden lion's path.
During feeding time, the male will eat first, then when he's had his share he'll let the females and their cubs take over.
The female will go to a secluded spot away from the pride to give birth. She will give birth to one to four cubs, which are helpless at birth. The female will hunt by herself and bring the kill back to the cubs to keep an eye on them while she eats. She will guard her cubs protectively from other animals, such as hyenas, other lions, and any other animals who happen to be nearby.
Usually after six to eight weeks the female will introduce her cubs to the pride. They aren't old enough to be taught to hunt yet, but they will imitate their mother and watch what she does when she hunts.
Cubs face many dangers including starvation. They also have many predators. Hyenas will grab a young lion if given the chance, and also other predators like Jackals, Leopards, eagles, and snakes can be deadly dangers to them.
Facts about Lions
* When they are two and a half and three years old, lions will begin learning to hunt, and Male lions reach maturity at about three years of age and usually will be kicked out of their own pride to challenge another male and take his pride.
* African Lions are large and built for speed and strength. Females have a strong, compact body with short, strong legs and a long tail which helps them keep their balance when turning sharply in pursuit of prey. Their jaws are large with long, knife-sharp teeth.
* Males grow an impressive dark mane, making them look larger and more dominant to other predators like hyenas. Although some males are maneless, this is very rare.
* Male lions are known to be very aggressive when it comes to defending their turf. They will aggressively scent mark their territory, and if an intruder comes they will viciously roar and bare their teeth in warning. If the intruder doesn't back off, the male may fight it and kill it, however this would be difficult if the intruder was another male lion.
* Lions will steal kills from hyenas, leopards, jackals, and wild dogs.
* Lions once roamed over most of Africa and parts of Asia and Europe, but today they are only found in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, except for one very small population of Asian lions that still survives today in India's Gir Forest.