The lion is a magnificent animal that appears as a symbol of power, courage and nobility on family crests, coats of arms and national flags in many civilizations. Lions are carnivorous mammals that come from the family Felidae. They are geographically distributed in mostly sub-Saharan east and southern Africa but can also be found in zoos internationally, India and some parts of Asia .Lions have golden yellow fur, and the adult male lions have shaggy manes that range in color from blond to reddish to black. The color appears to depend on a lions age, genetics and hormone levels. The male lion, easily recognized by his mane, weighs between 150-250 kg (330-500 lb). Females range 120-150 kg (260-330 lb). In the wild, lions live for around 10-14 years, while in captivity they can live over 20 years. They enjoy hot climates, and hunt in groups. Female lions usually hunt at night or dawn and in packs.
Generally a tawny yellow, lions, like other species, tend to be lighter in color in hot, arid areas and darker in areas of dense vegetation. Mature male lions are unique among the cat species for the thick mane of brown or black hair that encircles the head and neck. The tails of lions end in a horny spine covered with a tuft of hair.
Cooperative hunting enables lions to take prey as large as wildebeests, zebras, buffaloes, young elephants, rhinos, hippos and giraffes, any of which can provide several meals for the pride. Mice, lizards, tortoises, warthogs, antelopes and even crocodiles also form part of a lion's diet. Because they often take over kills made by hyenas, cheetahs and leopards, scavenged food provides more than 50 percent of their diets in areas like the Serengeti plains. An adult female lion needs about 5 kg (11 lbs) of meat per day, a male about 7 kg (15 lbs).
Litters consist of two or three cubs that weigh about 3 pounds each. Some mothers carefully nurture the young; others may neglect or abandon them, especially when food is scarce. Usually two or more females in a pride give birth about the same time, and the cubs are raised together. A lioness will permit cubs other than her own to suckle, sometimes enabling a neglected infant to survive. Capable hunters by 2 years of age, lions become fully grown between 5 and 6 years and normally live about 13 years.
Interesting fact about lions:
• The largest lion was recorded to be nearly 700 pounds and nearly 11 foot long.
• The oldest lion on record was nearly 29 years old.
• African lions are the most social of all big cats and live together in groups or "prides." A pride consists of about 15 lions.
• Male lions defend the pride's territory while females do most of the hunting. Despite this, the males eat first.
• A full-grown male mountain lion may be 9 feet long, including his tail.
• Mountain lions are known by more than 100 names, including panther, catamount, cougar, painter and puma. Its scientific name is Felis concolor, which means "cat of one color." At one time, mountain lions were very common.
• The lion was once found throughout Africa, Asia and Europe but now exists only in Africa with one exception. The last remaining Asiatic lions are found in Sasan-Gir National Park in India, which was primarily created to protect the species. Currently, there are approximately 350-400 lions in the park.
• A lion's roar can be heard from as far as 5 miles away.
• A lion can run for short distances at 50 mph and leap as far as 36 feet.
• Hunting generally is done in the dark by the lionesses. They often hunt in groups of two or three, using teamwork to stalk, surround, and kill their prey.
• Many of the females in the pride give birth at about the same time. A cub may nurse other females as well as its mother.
• Lionesses aren't the most successful of hunters, because they usually score only one kill out of several tries. After the kill the males usually eat first, lionesses next-and the cubs get what's left.
• Males and females fiercely defend against any outside lions that attempt to join their pride. Maybe in this case the family that preys together stays together.