Most lion vocalisations are variations of growling, snarling, meowing and roaring. [257] The lion is featured in several of Aesop's fables, notably The Lion and the Mouse. Lion populations in East and Southern Africa became separated from populations in West and North Africa when the equatorial rainforest expanded 183,500 to 81,800 years ago. [216] Van Amburgh performed before Queen Victoria in 1838 when he toured Great Britain. [99] Coalitions of males hold territory for a longer time than single lions. Carvings and paintings of lions discovered in the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves in France have been dated to 15,000 to 17,000 years old. [75][76][77], In southern Europe and Asia, the lion once ranged in regions where climatic conditions supported an abundance of prey. Each pride has its own territory that it defends, ranging from 20 square km (8 square miles) if food is abundant to 400 square km (around 150 square miles) if food is sparse. Lionesses living in open savanna do most of the hunting, whereas males typically appropriate their meals from the female’s kills. While most big cats are solitary hunters, lions are incredibly sociable animals that live together in family groups called prides. Upper Paleolithic cave painting depicting cave lions. The now-iconic lion tamer's chair was possibly first used by American Clyde Beatty (1903–1965). It was originally used only by Rajputs, a Hindu Kshatriya or military caste but is used by millions of Hindu Rajputs and more than twenty million Sikhs today. For nearly a century before the border was sealed, Mozambicans had regularly crossed the park in daytime with little harm. 1. large gregarious predatory feline of Africa and India having a tawny coat with a shaggy mane in the male 2. a celebrity who is lionized (much sought after) 3. The lion (Panthera leo) has a number of characteristics that differentiate it from the other wild predatory cats of the world. [181], A population occurs in Cameroon's Waza National Park, where between approximately 14 and 21 animals persisted as of 2009. [9][35][36] WildLink International in collaboration with Oxford University launched an ambitious International Barbary Lion Project with the aim of identifying and breeding Barbary lions in captivity for eventual reintroduction into a national park in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. In demonstrating the superiority of human over animal, lion taming served a purpose similar to animal fights of previous centuries. In other East African traditions, the lion is the symbol of laziness. Nomadic males must always secure their own food. It was made the National Emblem of India in 1950. The strategies seek to maintain suitable habitat, ensure a sufficient wild prey base for lions, reduce factors that lead to further fragmentation of populations, and make lion–human coexistence sustainable. [15], In Africa, the range of the lion originally spanned most of the central rainforest zone and the Sahara desert. Lion, (Panthera leo), large, powerfully built cat (family Felidae) that is second in size only to the tiger. In 2015, it was estimated that this population consists of about 400 animals, including fewer than 250 mature individuals. They begin to age and weaken at between 10 and 15 years of age at the latest. [258] The Nemean lion was symbolic in ancient Greece and Rome, represented as the constellation and zodiac sign Leo, and described in mythology, where it was killed and worn by the hero Heracles,[259] symbolising victory over death. Males also proclaim their presence by urinating on bushes, trees, or simply on the ground, leaving a pungent scent behind. Roaring is used to advertise its presence. This is a hybrid of a male leopard bred into a female lion. Updates? [146] Sometimes this introduction to pride life occurs earlier, particularly if other lionesses have given birth at about the same time. [265] The lion's role as king of the beasts has been used in the 1994 Disney animated feature film The Lion King. Narasimha, the man-lion, is one of ten avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu. With a typical head-to-body length of 184–208 cm (72–82 in) they are larger than females at 160–184 cm (63–72 in). [13] Between the mid-18th and mid-20th centuries, 26 lion specimens were described and proposed as subspecies, of which 11 were recognised as valid in 2005. Primary causes of the decline include disease and human interference. [92] Males spend years in a nomadic phase before gaining residence in a pride. The length and color of a lion's mane is likely determined by age, genetics and hormones. The synchronisation of births is advantageous because the cubs grow to being roughly the same size and have an equal chance of survival, and sucklings are not dominated by older cubs. [81] It once ranged from Sind and Punjab in Pakistan to Bengal and the Narmada River in central India. [197][198], Lions imported to Europe before the middle of the 19th century were possibly foremost Barbary lions from North Africa, or Cape lions from Southern Africa. If prey is abundant, both sexes typically spend 21 to 22 hours a day resting, sleeping, or sitting and hunt for only 2 or 3 hours a day. Historically, they lived across much of Europe, Asia, and Africa, but now they are mainly found in parts of Africa south of the Sahara. [263] Lion symbolism was used from the advent of cinema; one of the most iconic and widely recognised lions is Leo, which has been the mascot for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios since the 1920s. One of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human culture, the lion has been extensively depicted in sculptures and paintings, on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature. Each pride has a well-defined territory consisting of a core area that is strictly defended against intruding lions and a fringe area where some overlap is tolerated. Directed by Jack Cardiff. [238] In more heavily forested areas where lions were rare, the leopard represented the top of the hierarchy. Martin composed a pantomime titled Les Lions de Mysore ("the lions of Mysore"), an idea Amburgh quickly borrowed. Hybridisation between lion and snow leopard (P. uncia) ancestors possibly continued until about 2.1 million years ago. Males have broader heads and a prominent mane that grows downwards and backwards covering most of the head, neck, shoulders, and chest. Once inside, the tiger cut the lion’s jugular vein on its neck with its claws in one swat, causing the lion to die. A very brave person. lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them." [88] The average pride consists of around 15 lions, including several adult females and up to four males and their cubs of both sexes. Another 11 animals thought to be Barbary lions kept in Addis Ababa Zoo are descendants of animals owned by Emperor Haile Selassie. Barry Jenkins is a surprisin choice to make a Lion King movie but the director explained the three factors that concvinced him to take on the project. Such measures contribute to mitigating human–lion conflict. [78] In Greece, it was common as reported by Herodotus in 480 BC; it was considered rare by 300 BC and extirpated by AD 100. Lion populations are untenable outside designated protected areas. [73] The Asiatic lion now survives only in and around Gir National Park in Gujarat, western India. Large prides, consisting of up to 30 individuals, have been observed. [136][137] Lions also charge at Nile crocodiles; depending on the size of the crocodile and the lion, either animal can lose their kills to the other. Egyptian deities associated with lions include Sekhmet, Bast, Mafdet, Menhit, Pakhet and Tefnut. The Sanskrit word mrigendra signifies a lion as king of animals in general or deer in particular. 186.55–225 kg (411.3–496.0 lb) in Southern Africa, This page was last edited on 23 December 2020, at 23:47. [29][38][39] The modern lion was probably widely distributed in Africa during the Middle Pleistocene and started to diverge in sub-Saharan Africa during the Late Pleistocene. He is one of the strongest and fiercest of all flesh eating animal. In Proverbs, 28 : 1, you will read, "The wicked flee when no man pursueth; but the righteous is as bold as a lion… [202] [149], Pride lionesses often synchronise their reproductive cycles and communal rearing and suckling of the young, which suckle indiscriminately from any or all of the nursing females in the pride. This result suggested that the taxonomic position of lions in Central Africa may require revision. The tuft is absent at birth and develops at around ​5.mw-parser-output .sr-only{border:0;clip:rect(0,0,0,0);height:1px;margin:-1px;overflow:hidden;padding:0;position:absolute;width:1px;white-space:nowrap} 1⁄2 months of age. They were removed from the wild in the 1970s, thus decreasing the white lion gene pool. The North American mountain lion is a completely separate species, and not a true lion. [46], The lion is a muscular, deep-chested cat with a short, rounded head, a reduced neck and round ears. Genetic evidence revealed numerous mutations in lion samples from East and Southern Africa, which indicates that this group has a longer evolutionary history than genetically less diverse lion samples from Asia and West and Central Africa. [29], In sub-Saharan Africa, the lion has been a common character in stories, proverbs and dances, but rarely featured in visual arts. Some large males weigh over 250 kg. Size and appearance vary considerably between the sexes. [173], The lion's repertoire of vocalisations is large; variations in intensity and pitch appear to be central to communication. A person regarded as fierce or savage. Until … A lion's roar can be heard from 5 miles away. [97] Alternatively, there may be rewards associated with being a leader that fends off intruders; the rank of lionesses in the pride is reflected in these responses. They typically weigh between It is sexually dimorphic; adult male lions have a prominent mane. The Panthera lineage is estimated to have genetically diverged from the common ancestor of the Felidae around 9.32 to 4.47 million years ago to 11.75 to 0.97 million years ago. [163], Captive lions have been infected with canine distemper virus (CDV) since at least the mid 1970s. The size of a full grown lion is 10 to 12 […] Spotted hyenas have adapted by frequently mobbing lions that enter their territories. 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family. [206] Lions can live over twenty years in captivity; a lion in Honolulu Zoo died at the age of 22 in August 2007. [255] The lion dance is a traditional dance in Chinese culture in which performers in lion costumes mimic a lion's movements, often with musical accompaniment from cymbals, drums and gongs. Lions are most active at night and live in a variety of habitats but prefer grassland, savanna, dense scrub, and open woodland. [74] In the 1960s, it became extinct in North Africa, except in the southern part of Sudan. [71] They have reportedly been bred in camps in South Africa for use as trophies to be killed during canned hunts. [85] Males associated with a pride tend to stay on the fringes, patrolling their territory. [83] Although lions can be active at any time, their activity generally peaks after dusk with a period of socialising, grooming and defecating. The mane is typically brownish and tinged with yellow, rust and black hairs. [245] The Lion of Judah is the biblical emblem of the tribe of Judah and the later Kingdom of Judah. [8], Felis leo was the scientific name used by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, who described the lion in his work Systema Naturae. Usually they are found in Africa, India and Arabia. [261] "Lion" was the nickname of several medieval warrior-rulers with a reputation for bravery, such as Richard the Lionheart. Because lions have never been native to China, early depictions were somewhat unrealistic; after the introduction of Buddhist art to China in the Tang Dynasty after the sixth century AD, lions were usually depicted wingless with shorter, thicker bodies and curly manes. [153] Lions of both sexes may be involved in group homosexual and courtship activities; males will also head-rub and roll around with each other before simulating sex together. The spotted cat swiped its claws at its larger assailant, making the lion jump into the air to avoid contact. When a new male lion takes over a pride, adolescents both male and female may be evicted. Ice Age Lion Man is world's earliest figurative sculpture. Historically, they ranged across much of Europe, Asia, and Africa, but now they are found mainly in parts of Africa south of the Sahara. Their distinctive roar is generally delivered in the evening before a night’s hunting and again before getting up at dawn. Typically, the lion inhabits grasslands and savannas, but is absent in dense forests. [52] It lived in Palestine until the Middle Ages, and in Southwest Asia until the late 19th century. [171] Social licking often occurs in tandem with head rubbing; it is generally mutual and the recipient appears to express pleasure. White lions have occasionally been encountered in and around Kruger National Park and the adjacent Timbavati Private Game Reserve in eastern South Africa. They persist in three protected areas in the region, mostly in one population in the W A P protected area complex, shared by Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. [123] In Botswana's Chobe National Park, the situation is reversed; hyenas frequently challenge lions and steal their kills, obtaining food from 63% of all lion kills. [212], Lions were kept in cramped and squalid conditions at London Zoo until a larger lion house with roomier cages was built in the 1870s. The functions of the spur are unknown. Where an infrastructure for wildlife tourism has been developed, cash revenue for park management and local communities is a strong incentive for lion conservation. In the Book of Judges, Samson kills a lion as he travels to visit a Philistine woman. During withdrawal of the penis, the spines rake the walls of the female's vagina, which may cause ovulation. [147] To avoid a buildup of scent attracting the attention of predators, the lioness moves her cubs to a new den site several times a month, carrying them one-by-one by the nape of the neck. [260] Lancelot and Gawain were also heroes slaying lions in the Middle Ages. Mane colour varies and darkens with age; research shows its colour and size are influenced by environmental factors such as average ambient temperature. Researchers therefore assume Ethiopia is a contact zone between the two subspecies. [213] Further changes took place in the early 20th century when Carl Hagenbeck designed enclosures with concrete "rocks", more open space and a moat instead of bars, more closely resembling a natural habitat. [173] A common facial expression is the "grimace face" or flehmen response, which a lion makes when sniffing chemical signals and involves an open mouth with bared teeth, raised muzzle, wrinkled nose closed eyes and relaxed ears. Population densities of wild dogs are low in areas where lions are more abundant. One of the key differences is its social behavior. [49], Of the living felid species, the lion is rivaled only by the tiger in length, weight, and height at the shoulder. Lions prey on a large variety of animals ranging in size from rodents and baboons to Cape (or African) buffalo and hippopotamuses, but they predominantly hunt medium- to large-sized hoofed animals such as wildebeests, zebras, and antelopes. On hot days, the pride retreats to shade with one or two males standing guard. [137][91] Up to 80% of lion cubs will die before the age of two. [239] The founder of the Waalo kingdom is said to have been raised by lions and returned to his people part-lion to unite them using the knowledge he learned from the lions. The head and neck are the most common parts of the body licked; this behaviour may have arisen out of utility because lions cannot lick these areas themselves. [204], About 77% of the captive lions registered in the International Species Information System in 2006 were of unknown origin; these animals might have carried genes that are extinct in the wild and may therefore be important to the maintenance of the overall genetic variability of the lion. In some medieval stories, lions were portrayed as allies and companions. Some individuals consistently lead the defence against intruders, while others lag behind. [140] Lions do not mate at a specific time of year and the females are polyestrous. The lion is a flesh eating animal. [107], Young lions first display stalking behaviour at around three months of age, although they do not participate in hunting until they are almost a year old and begin to hunt effectively when nearing the age of two. In 1987, it was found that most lions in North American zoos were hybrids between African and Asiatic lions. This population is listed as Critically Endangered. [150], When one or more new males oust the previous males associated with a pride, the victors often kill any existing young cubs, perhaps because females do not become fertile and receptive until their cubs mature or die. [148] Lionesses with cubs of their own are more likely to be tolerant of another lioness's cubs than lionesses without cubs. [172], Lions have an array of facial expressions and body postures that serve as visual gestures. A Lion Is a Lion By Polly Dunbar All lions are fierce, right? Since 2008, the Asiatic lion has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Manes make males look larger and may serve to intimidate rivals or impress prospective mates. She will often hunt alone while the cubs are still helpless, staying relatively close to the den. [109][110] In typical hunts, each lioness has a favoured position in the group, either stalking prey on the "wing", then attacking, or moving a smaller distance in the centre of the group and capturing prey fleeing from other lionesses. [231], Lions continue to appear in modern literature as characters including the messianic Aslan in the 1950 novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis,[262] and the comedic Cowardly Lion in L. Frank Baum's 1900 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. There are a number of competing evolutionary explanations for why lions form groups. [2] In 1975, it was estimated that since the 1950s, lion numbers had decreased by half to 200,000 or fewer. [227] Another study of 1,000 people attacked by lions in southern Tanzania between 1988 and 2009 found that the weeks following the full moon, when there was less moonlight, were a strong indicator of increased night-time attacks on people. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. A lion may switch lifestyles; nomads can become residents and vice versa. Breeding was continued in 1998 in the frame of an African lion Species Survival Plan. They spend an average of two hours a day walking and fifty minutes eating. [214] In the late 20th century, larger, more natural enclosures and the use of wire mesh or laminated glass instead of lowered dens allowed visitors to come closer than ever to the animals; some attractions such as the Cat Forest/Lion Overlook of Oklahoma City Zoological Park placed the den on ground level, higher than visitors. Manes make male lions look larger than they really are, which may function to intimidate rivals and impress prospective mates. By the late 19th century, it had been extirpated in most of Turkey. Lions from North Africa dispersed to southern Europe and Asia between 38,800 and 8,300 years ago. on (lī′ən) n. 1. [225] Sick or injured animals may be more prone to man-eating but the behaviour is not unusual, nor necessarily aberrant. [42][43] The liger is bigger than a lion and a tiger, whereas most tigons are relatively small compared to their parents because of reciprocal gene effects. ", "Genetic insights into dispersal distance and disperser fitness of African lions (, "Complex cooperative strategies in group-territorial African lions", "Selfish partners: resource partitioning in male coalitions of Asiatic lions", "Refined techniques for the analysis of Asiatic lion, https://africageographic.com/stories/beach-lions-hunting-seals-coastal-birds-namibia-35-years/, "Lion predation on elephants in the Savuti, Chobe National Park, Botswana", "Cooperative hunting in lions: the role of the individual", "Lion hunting behaviour and vegetation structure in an African savanna", "Prey preferences of the spotted hyaena (, "Interspecific competition and the population biology of extinction-prone carnivores", "To kill, stay or flee: the effects of lions and landscape factors on habitat and kill site selection of cheetahs in South Africa", "Predator–prey relationships among the larger mammals of the Kruger National Park", "Distemper: not a new disease in lions and tigers", "A canine distemper epidemic in Serengeti lions (, "Lentivirus infection in an African lion: a clinical, pathologic and virologic study", "An acoustic analysis of lion roars. A whole genome-wide sequence of lion samples showed that samples from West Africa shared alleles with samples from Southern Africa, and samples from Central Africa shared alleles with samples from Asia. Curator of Mammals, New York State Museum, Albany. Directed by Garth Davis. [47] It appeared as a symbol for strength and nobility in cultures across Europe, Asia and Africa, despite incidents of attacks on people. 118.37–143.52 kg (261.0–316.4 lb) in Southern Africa. [141] Like those of other cats, the male lion's penis has spines that point backward. The presence, absence, colour and size of the mane are associated with genetic precondition, sexual maturity, climate and testosterone production; the rule of thumb is that a darker, fuller mane indicates a healthier animal. Male lions usually aim for the backs or hindquarters of rivals, rather than their necks. The female, or lioness, is smaller, with a body length of 1.5 metres, a shoulder height of 0.9–1.1 metres, and a weight of 120–180 kg. [219], The Maasai people have traditionally viewed the killing of lions as a rite of passage. [237] In some cultures, the lion symbolises power and royalty. Due to the expansion of the Sahara between 83,100 and 26,600 years ago, lion populations in West and North Africa became separated. The lion (Panthera leo) is a species in the family Felidae and a member of the genus Panthera. "The late miocene radiation of modern Felidae: A genetic assessment", "Phylogeny and evolution of cats (Felidae)". A lion is very powerful and so that he is called the King of forest. [175] They tend to roar in a very characteristic manner starting with a few deep, long roars that subside into a series of shorter ones. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. [176][177], The lion is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. [231] These deities were often connected with the sun god Ra and his fierce heat, and their dangerous power was invoked to guard people or sacred places. A lion pride consists of a few adult males, related females and cubs. b. Females often fiercely defend their cubs from a usurping male but are rarely successful unless a group of three or four mothers within a pride join forces against the male. This allowed him to slip through to the lion’s cage. Pride males in scrub or wooded habitat spend less time with the females and hunt most of their own meals. Lion Camp looks like a bit of African habitat, so guests get to see lots of natural lion behaviors, watching the cats as they romp in the grass, explore the logs and rocks, or sit and watch the antelope, giraffes, and rhinos in the nearby African Plains savanna habitat. Young lions have light spotting on their coats that disappears as they grow. Omissions? Males attached to prides do not usually participate in group hunting. The lion (Panthera leo) is the second-largest big cat, smaller only than the tiger. [178] Estimates of the African lion population range between 16,500 and 47,000 living in the wild in 2002–2004. [91], Asiatic lion prides differ in group composition. [100], The lion is a generalist hypercarnivore[101] and is considered to be both an apex and keystone predator due to its wide prey spectrum. Crowd around to feed on the 1960 non-fiction Book with the adults of lions was halted eliminate... Females leave and become nomadic scent behind do most of Turkey cross-breeding different and. Wild, an adult male lion takes over a pride is a large wild of! Range widely and move around sporadically, either in pairs or alone rivers open! Kingdom of Judah and the Sahara desert their nickname of characteristics that it! 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