Species: Panthera leo
Lion Conservation Status: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15951/0
The Lion is the second largest wild cat in the world (the Tiger is the biggest). Male Lions can weigh up to 250 kg (550 lbs). Lions live from 14-27 years (14-15 in the wild typically, and up to 27 in captivity).
Lions are the only wild cats that live in groups (called prides). Lionesses hunt together, bringing down large prey like wildebeests and zebras. Lions are mainly nocturnal and do most of their hunting at night or early dawn. Lions consume a wide variety of prey, from wildebeest, impala, zebra, giraffe, buffalo and wild hogs to even rhinos and hippos. They will also feed on smaller animals such as hares, birds and reptiles. Lions are also known to attack elephants when food is scarce. Lions can reach speeds of 80 kmph (50 mph).
Each pride usually has about 15 Lion members, consisting of a group of females and their offspring and usually one dominant male. Sometimes a small group of males will join the pride and reign there for a period of time before another group takes over.
The Alpha male Lion protects the pride from other predators. Even though the females do almost all the hunting, the females live longer than the male because the dominant male must constantly fight off challenges from other males who want to take his place. Most dominant male Lions only remain in the same pride for 3-4 years (male Lions are in their prime from ages 5-10).
Lions within a pride are close and they nurture each other with gentle head rubbing and licking and comforting noises. Both male and female Lions roar, and these roars can be heard over 8 km (5 mi) away.
There is a small group of naturally occurring white Lions in Africa. Actually, they had gone extinct in the wild and conservationists reintroduced them. White Lions originate solely from the Greater Timbavati Bushveld region of South Africa. They are thought to have lived in this particular part of Africa for centuries. They are not albinos, as they still have pigment in their eyes and coats. Their pale coloring is caused by a recessive genetic trait. Sometimes white Lions are born into captivity but this is not a good thing- it is a sign of inbreeding.
Here’s a wonderful story about a beloved Lion, “Frazier The Sensuous Lion” : https://kimcampion.com/animals/the-amazing-story-of-frasier-the-sensuous-lion/