Here we have interesting lion facts for kids which will give you some real insights about this ferocious wild animal. Among one of the most ferocious felines, lion (Panthera leo) belongs to the family of Felidae. These animals are by far one of the biggest cats in the world. They are normally found in Sub-Sahara Africa and Asia. Previously, some of the species also believed to have existed in North Africa; however, currently there are no cats in this part of the world. In India, lions reside in Gir Forest National Park. Going back 10,000 years ago, lions were believed to be the most common mammals with their widespread distribution across Europe, Africa, and America.
Biologists aren’t still sure about the cause of their extinction but deforestation or habitat destruction are some of the major reasons for their extermination. The western African lions have now been endangered. There is a dramatic decline in the lions population with an estimate of about 40% – 50% decline has been recorded over the past few decades. There were 100,000 – 400,000 African lions present in the early 1990s however, in 2002 – 2004, only 16,500 – 47,000 had been recorded. All these essentials and other lion facts for kids are summarized below. They often came into conflict with a human which is the major cause of their extinction. Apart from humans, diseases played a pivotal role in its extermination. Lions have been included in the list of endangered species.
Lion has been regarded as the “King of Beasts” for many centuries due to its strength and predatory habits. Once lions roamed around most of the major territories than they are today. According to the cave paintings and archaeological finds, lions once inhabited all across Europe some 15,000 years ago. The writings of Aristotle mention lions in Greece as recently as 300 BC, and Crusaders regularly encountered lions on their way through the Middle East. Lions still inhabit most of the northern India and Middle East up to the turn of the century.
Lions also display lithe, compact, deep-chested and muscular body like other members of the cat family. It has a rounded-and-shortened head along with the obvious whiskers. The lion’s skull is perfectly adapted for taking down its prey with the help of its strong powerful jaws. The upper surface of the tongue is covered by the backward-curved horny papillae; these papillae are particularly effective for carrying meat as well as getting rid of parasites whilst grooming.
Lions typically find their prey via sense of hearing or simply visually. Unlike polar bears, lions do not use sense of smell except in rarities. Like other cats, adult lionesses are smaller than adult lions (20 – 35, sometimes 50, percent lighter). Males typically dominate the feeding sites probably due to their large size; they often take the carcasses for themselves even when others are feeding. Despite of their large size, they do not hunt themselves rather adult males exclusively rely on females for hunting prey. However, the primary role of adult males is to defend their territories not only from intruders but also from other counterparts. The mane of adult lions makes them heavier as compared to the females. The adult males rarely confront with other males since the weaker lion often gets away with the fight. The mane protects its owner against the claws and teeth of an opponent should fighting actually occur.
Lion Facts For Kids
- The average lifespan of lions is about 10 – 14 years in the wild; whereas under captivity they can live up to 20 years.
- Lions inhabit in grasslands, savanna and other forests.
- As against other cats, lions are considered to be sociable animals.
- Males and females are easily identifiable since male exhibits mane as against the females.
- The shoulder height of lions measure around 14 cm (5.5 inches). The size of the skull is same as that of tiger’s.
- The adult male lion weighs around 150 – 250 kg (330 – 550 lb); while the weight of the females is about 120 – 182 kg (264 – 400 lb). African lions are relatively heavier than the European Lions.
- The males are 170-250 cm (5 ft 7 in - 8 ft 2 inches) long excluding tail which is 90 – 105 cm (2 ft 11 in – 3 ft 5 in) long. The shoulder height measures at 123 cm (4 feet).
- The females are 140-175 cm (4 ft 7 in – 5 ft 9 inches) and the tail length is about 70 – 100 cm (2 ft 4 in – 3 ft 3 inches). Females have a shoulder height of 91 cm (3 feet).
- The study of lion facts lead us to believe that the largest lion measured at 3.6 metres (12 feet) and was found in 1973, with the weight measuring 313 kg (690 lb). Under captivity, the largest lion (Simba) weighed around 375 kg (826 lb), with the length measuring at 250 cm (8 feet 2 inches).
- Lions are not the active animals during daytime rather they spend daily 20 hours on resting.
- Lionesses are mainly responsible for hunting since they are swifter as compared to males. However, both males and females defend their pride against invaders.
- Because of their less stamina, they are known to hunt at dusk or at night when prey is easily caught. Before going for a particular prey, they slowly walk toward it and they chase after 30 m (98 feet)of distance is left.
What Do Lions Eat?
Lion facts about its diet include mammals of all sizes. Lions are carnivorous and they primarily eat medium-sized as well as large sized mammals including impalas, zabras, buffalo, warthogs, wild boar, deer, and wildebeest. Lions are also known to eat kudu, eland, gemsbok, hartebeest, springbok, Thomson’s gazelle, and giraffes. The prey ranges from 50 – 300 kg (110 – 660 lb) by weight. As far as mammals are concerned, the weight ranges from 190 – 550 kg (420 – 1210 lb) that includes young hippo, rhino, and even elephants. Lions also kill other intruders like leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, and hyenas. They consume 30 kg (66 lb) in one time.
Lion Facts about its Reproduction and Lifecycle
Lions turn out to be mature after 2 – 3 years.
The period of gestation lasts for about 110 days.
Females give birth to 1 – 4 cubs.
These cubs begin to see after 7 – 10 days.
The weight of these cubs is 1.2-2.1 kg (2.6-4.6 lb).
Lions attain their maturity as early as 24 – 28 months in captivity and 36 – 46 months in the wild—a difference is primarily due to the nutritional elements. Females become receptive twice in a year and the receptive period lasts for 2 – 4 days. There is an irregular interval between cycles that ranges from couple of weeks to the couple of months.
The gestation period of lions lasts for only 100 – 119 days. It is for this reason that cubs are born small weighing less than one percent of an adult’s weight. Lion’s reproduction takes place all round the year, although numerous females within the pride litters in the same month. All these females will nurture their young together but will suckle their own cubs only.
The litter size varies from 1 to 5, with an average of 2 to 3 cubs. These cubs will start eating their first meat after three months and are weaned slowly. The female will continue to nurse her cubs for about six months. However, mortality is too high in cubs—80% of them die before two years of age. The female produces her next litter when her cubs attain 2 years of age. However, if all her cubs die she will soon start mating after the death of the last litter.
Size of a Pride | Lion Facts for Kids
The lion is regarded as the most sociable cat of all felids. The social organization primarily rests on the pride which comprises of 4 – 12 adult females that are related to each other, and 1-6 adult males together with their offspring. Lions for the most part stay in their groups in the pride, although males are related to the females they are not related to other males. Both males and females tend to defend their territory even though males are generally dominant in guarding. Lions mark their territories either by urinating, roaring, or patrolling. Invaders normally withdraw on the arrival of the resident whereas males are often encountered with other males but killing is rare.
The pride covers an area of 20 to 400 sq. km (8 to 155 sq. miles), depending on the size of the pride and the extent of availability of the prey. The territories seldom overlap with that of other prides unless one of them is extremely large. The social behavior and ecology of lions vary with the changing environments. The study in African lions’ behavior shows that the less abundant the prey is, larger is the territory. There are two factors that largely determine the size of the pride: 1) the pride’s skill to defend its territory, and 2) the point at which the social cohesion would else break down.
It’s not unusual for cubs to starve in their first year since lions are poor competitors at kills. It is found that the adult females often stop their own cubs from feeding in the days of food shortage. These cubs may also die of starvation when small animals are killed since there are dominant males at the feeding site. Once they become 18 months old, they hunt on their own, and by two years they no longer rely on the abundance of prey to survive.
Blood Relatives | Lion Facts
Selection in a Lion Pride
The lioness often suckles the cubs of a neighboring female along with her own; a newcomer male, however, kills her cubs and later tolerates the active play of the cubs he fathers. These types of distinctive behaviors in lions can only be understood when we know precisely as to which lion is associated to which. In one pride, there are 4 to 12 females that are related to each other since they grow up as the offspring of associated females. But when the number of females in a pride increases than the optimum size, then the extra females are left out.
These females are mostly 2 – 3 years of age. Perhaps these females might feel unlucky as they are not readily accepted by other prides and as nomads they have a shortened life span, with the reproductive success less than a quarter as compared to the resident females. As far as young males (2 – 3 years of age) are concerned, they are also driven out if they don’t leave on their own. Some of these males are distant relatives while others are not. The young lions stay in a group until they reach 2 years of age. Males can be associated in a group for as short as 18 months and as long as 10 years, depending on the number of males in coalition in possession, and the extent of competition from rival groups. Sometimes, it so happens that the cubs of four different mothers suckle at the same time from one lioness. This is extremely rare in other mammals because mother never nurses the cubs of its neighboring female. If lioness cannot feed her cubs, then it will possibly feed the cubs of her relative counterpart.
One of the most common behaviors in resident males is they defend their pride cooperatively against any intruders and would fight fiercely against unknown males; but they won’t fight for females. In fact, they show a gentlemen’s agreement and the first male coming across a female is normally accepted. They have a reason not to fight with each other because they need each other’s help to confront with other rivals. On the whole, the adult male maintains cordial a relation with its females and also shows magnanimity towards cubs he fathers. When a newcomer male joins the pride, it usually kills one or two cubs from the very start and he does so when he takes it over. In return, however, these violent males leave several descendants of their own.
Relationship with Humans | Lion Facts For Kids
Humans are often found victim to lions especially in primitive times. The Romans imported lions from North Africa and Asia Minor in order to execute humans—a practice which also prolonged in Europe. Some of the lions were termed as man-eaters primarily because they find humans an easy prey as humans cannot run swiftly. This is particularly true in case of aged or injured lions that are unable to hunt typical prey species. One such incident took place towards the end of the 19th century when two healthy lions were accustomed to take on laborers in Uganda—Kenya so much so that construction was halted. Lions, generally, do not attack humans unless provoked.
While lions are not immediately threatened with extinction, their long-term survival is far from assured. They roamed in large numbers but the numbers are continuously declining as hunters were involved in killing dozens of lions per hunting trip. Currently, lions not killed that much may be because they are not that much.
Where Do Lions Live?
Lions are normally found in the savanna, grasslands, and deciduous forests. They are widespread across Africa, Greece, Sahara desert and India. They usually cover a wide range of about 1,412 km2 (545 sq miles).
Lion Facts For Kids | Threats
There are quite a few numbers of predators that prey on lion cubs. These predators include martial eagles, snakes, hyenas, and leopards. Even wild buffaloes are also known to kill these cubs.
- P. l. persica, (Asiatic Lion or Indian Lion)
- P. l. leo, (Barbary Lion, length 3-3.3 metres (10-10.8 ft) and weight more than 200 kilograms (440 lb)
- P. l. senegalensis, (West African Lion)
- P. l. azandica (Massai Lion)
- P. l. nubica (Katanga Lion)
- P. l. bleyenberghi (Transvaal Lion)
- P. l. krugeri (Cape Lion)
- P. l. melanochaita
- P. l. krugeri
South Sahara to South Africa, not found in Congo rain forest belt; Northwest India (a remnant of population only in Gir Forest Sanctuary
Varied from rich grasslands of East Africa to the sands of Kalahari Desert
Male head-body length 2.6 – 3.3 m (8.5 – 10.8 ft); tail length 60 – 100 cm (2 – 3.3 ft), shoulder height 1.2 m (4 ft), weight 150 – 240 kg (330 – 530 lb). Female head-body length 2.4 – 2.7 m (8 – 9 ft), tail length 60 – 100 cm (2 – 3.3 ft); shoulder height 1.1 m (3.6 ft); weight 122 – 182 kg (270 – 300 lb).
Light tawny; white on abdomen and inner side of legs; back of ears black; mane of male ranges from reddish-brown to black. Immature animals display rosette-pattern coat which fades away as they grow bigger, vestiges still exist on the legs of adults and on lower abdomen
About 15 years (to 24 years in captivity)
100 – 119 days
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