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What Does a Lion's Roar Sound Like


King of the Jungle

We've all heard that the lion is the king of the jungle, and he always looks impressive as he stalks to and fro. Adjectives used to describe this powerful beast are impressive, dominating and proud. These self-same adjectives could be used to describe many kings.


Perception of a Lion's Roar

Stop a moment . . . and imagine a lion’s roar. Would you use the adjectives powerful, impressive and maybe a little bit scary to describe the feelings invoked by the roar? It is, in fact, so powerful and impressive that it can be heard up to five miles away!

This is a Lion's Roar!

The MGM lion on TV ... Now that is a lion’s roar.

Those roars sounded impressive and powerful. And, they're not something you would want to come face to face with, is it?

The Lion's Roar

Unless we clicked on one of the other MGM lion videos in YouTube, generally the lions recorded do not sound like this at all. The other videos remind me of . . . well, let’s listen to them and you decide for yourself before I chime in with my two cents.

We'll listen first to the savanna lion and then the white lion. Although they sound very similar, they are still unique, and I believe much wimpier than the roar of the MGM lion. It's obvious lions have many different vocalizations they use to get their point across. Whatever it is they're saying, it pays to pay attention.

Now you tell me - is that what you thought a lion's roar would sound like? If you live in a country where lions are native and run wild, you probably knew how a lion's roar sounded. But the only lions I have ever seen are in captivity, unfortunately; and they have been quiet and subdued.

So what did the lion's roar remind you of? Have you had time to consider your answer?


Now that you've had time to think about it . . . what did you think it sounded like?

I thought it sounded like a cross between a dog's bark, a water buffalo and a cat trying to throw up a hairball! What do you think? Is that close? I am anxious to hear what you thought the lion's roar sounded like.

Someone left a comment on one of the YouTube videos above stating that the lion sounded like Chewbacca from Star Wars' fame. I can hear the resemblance, and Chewbacca's sound effects were a compilation of many animals including the lion.

Lion Cub's Roar

Knowing what the adult lion sounds like, do you have any idea how a lion cub's roar would sound? Get ready to smile, because it is so darn cute!

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Is the lion cub's roar anything like you thought it would be? It certainly wasn't for me! I don't even know how to describe it. It almost reminded me of a bird's chirp.

In domestic cats, the kitten's mew seems to be similar but slightly higher pitched than the adult. But for the lion, that's not true at all! And it's interesting to note the hesitation of sound coming from the cub after it has opened its mouth to produce its miniature kitten "roar."


A Compilation of Roars

Here is a compilation of lions' roars. Notice in the first example how the mouth is almost shaped like a megaphone which is probably how the sound carries so far ... almost 5 miles! When the lion is lying down and roaring, it's whole moves to produce the sound.

When the lions are vocalizing, many times they should almost like they are barking.

More About the Lion's Roar

There are only four cats that can roar and have been assigned to their own genus, Panthera: the leopard, tiger, lion and jaguar. The roar is believed to be used as a method of letting other lions know where they are located - both to friend or foe. The force of a lion’s roar can cause a dust cloud. That is some force! Surely one to be reckoned with!

The reason that other cats cannot roar is because they have a one-piece hyoid bone. The cats that roar have a two-piece hyoid bone.

Below is a much more modern version of the MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) lion.

Comparing the Lion's Roars to That of Other Animals

Other animals use a roar as one of their vocalizations. These compare other animals' roar to the lion's, such as the tiger, bear, cobra, gorilla, crocodile, howler monkey, hyena and hippo. It did include some animals that, although they made interesting sounds, would not really be classified as a roar.

Amazingly, the cobra's roar is very similar to the lion's ... just fainter. Surprisingly, just listening to the sound with no picture, the gorilla is very, very similar. At one point, the hippo sounded like it was getting ready to take off.

Comparing a Lion's Roar to a Tiger's Roar

Although it's said to see these majestic creatures caged and many times in areas that are much too small, you can watch this video to compare the similarities and differences between a lion's roar and a tiger's roar. About in the middle of the video, the lion does a sequence of roars and then lays down to survey his kingdom. When I think of lions, that is the pose I most consider.

There are only four cats that can roar and have been assigned to their own genus, Panthera: the leopard, tiger, lion and jaguar. The roar is believed to be used as a method of letting other lions know where they are located - both to friend and foe. I found it amazing also, that the force of a lion’s roar can cause a dust cloud. That is some force! Surely one to be reckoned with!

The reason that other cats cannot roar is because they have a one-piece hyoid bone. The cats that roar have a two-piece hyoid bone.

Here are vocalizations and roars of several big cats: the lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, cheetah, panther, cougar and snow leopard. The adult cheetah chirps with sounds that very similar to the baby lion. It's interesting that the snow leopard's roar begins with a meow. All cats, both big and small, have similarities in their vocalizations.

In a head to head competition, who do you think would win a roaring contest?


The Lion in Entertainment

Humans have both feared and been fascinated with the lion. Hollywood has as well. In addition to MGM using it as part of their logo, the lion has been featured many times in the entertainment industry. They've made movies about them, such as The Lion KIng, and even wrote songs about them, such as this video - The Tokens singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

Here's an amazing A Capella of the same song performed by Anne Reburn.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Pictures of the King of the Jungle

Click here to take a photo journey and admire this wondrous creature we call the lion, the king of the jungle.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Cindy Murdoch

Comments: "The Lion - King of the Jungle - A Lion's Roar"

Zaton-Taran from California on June 25, 2017:

Great hub on the African lion! Check out my own little story if you have the chance. It details the life cycle of the lion and lioness, and life on the Serengeti, in general.

hannah on March 04, 2013:

the MGM roar isn't a lion it's a tiger

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on May 10, 2012:

silverstararrow - It is amazing that the cub mew grows to become such a magnificent roar. But I just love it because it is so very adorable. I am pleased that you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for stopping by!

Arati Nair from Scottsdale on May 10, 2012:

A thoroughly entertaining and informative hub. I've always loved watching NatGeo and Discovery for the sole reason that they have so many shows about lions.

The best of the lot though was the cub mewl. Can't imagine how this matures in time to THE roar. :)

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on March 25, 2012:

femmeflashpoint - I love all cats big and small, tame and wild. I like their independence and their grace.

I like the concept of the low frequency sound waves causing a physical effect. Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention.

femmeflashpoint on March 24, 2012:


Loved this!!!

So far, my fav roar still comes from a Tiger. :) But, the little one in the mix he (or she) was making impressive effort!

I've heard that cats that roar can emit low frequency sound waves with their roars, that has a detrimental physical effect on their prey, causing anxiety and confusion.

I haven't investigated further to find out if what I heard is correct, but makes sense if it is.

Very cool hub!!


Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on March 01, 2012:

chrisma - I would think so also. I looked for videos that exhibited the more ferocious roar but was unable to locate any! Thanks so much for your comment!

chrisma on February 29, 2012:

Okay this was great read, but to my opinion, I think if the lion were under aggression, they would sound much stronger and aggressively.:)!

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on February 18, 2012:

MartieCoetser - How cool is that? Living in living country ...

Thanks so much for the history of that song ... it means so much more now, but I do really love that song.

Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on February 16, 2012:

Living in lion country, though seeing them only in game reserves and zoos, I am quite familiar with their roars. I would describe it as impressive, majestic and masculine...

The well known "The Lion Sleep Tonight" was originally a Zulu song called Mbube (lion). According to folklore the song was sang when Shaka kaSenzangakhona, the most influential king of the Zulu's, had died on 22 September 1828 at the age of forty-one. (He had been assassinated by his half-brothers Dingana and Mhlangana.)

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 31, 2012:

Brett - You are right - 5 miles is a pretty impressive distance from which to hear a lion's roar. The videos were surprising, but my favorite is still of the cub learning how to roar! Oh my goodness!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Brett C from Asia on January 31, 2012:

Those first two videos were not quite what I was expecting! LOL However, 5 miles is an impressive shout.

Thanks for SHARING.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 25, 2012:

Oh, Thomas! Your comment had me laughing out loud! I had to listen to the baby cub again, and although the dogs looked my way, none headed for the kitchen. I must just be Truman ...

They really are gorgeous. I'm glad you enjoyed the read, and we were hearing the same sounds coming out of those lion's mouths!!

Thanks for stopping by!

ThoughtSandwiches from Reno, Nevada on January 25, 2012:


Wow. I listened to all the videos first (and then re-booted because my computer sucks) and I am here with some thoughts. As I listened to them...Truman was laying on the couch...he raised his head for all the adult lions...he jumped off the couch and went looking for the baby one...convinced it was in the kitchen. (Yeah...I dunno)

They are truly beautiful animals...tho I'm glad they ain't just roaming around I guess. That would be weird.

Thanks for a great read!


PS...I actually thought it sounded like a Water Buffalo throwing up a cat that was holding a hairball that was watching a dog bark. Very, very similar though...

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 09, 2012:

Ruchira - I am glad you stopped by. I am also pleased that you enjoyed the hub. The lion's roar is a very interesting sound. But I fell in love with the little cub and it trying to roar! Thanks for the votes.

Ruchira from United States on January 09, 2012:

Hi Cindy,

A wonderful topic to hub on. It is a debating topic on what a lion's roar sounds like.

I find it very majestic and scary. Can't really relate to which animal though.

Voted up as interesting! Keep it coming!

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 09, 2012:

Wesman Todd Shaw - I love to watch videos about animals also, but this would also include domestic animals as well as wildlife. I try to include videos with all of my animal hubs.

I guess tigers would be terrifying for you as well as the lions and bears. I think the Wizard of Oz had it right, "Lions, and tigers, and bears. Oh my!"

I am pleased tha you enjoyed it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on January 09, 2012:

I could literally spend all day long watching youtube vids about wildlife.

Lions are absolutely TERRIFYING to me - Lions and Bears...they just scare me.

Thanks for this - it was an enjoyable web page for me!

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 07, 2012:

Sueswan - you are right! The cub did not sound ferocious! He sounded so cute that I couldn't help but smile. Thanks for the votes and for stopping by.

Sueswan on January 07, 2012:

Hi homestead

A very enjoyable hub.

The lion club is adorable. He certainly doesn't sound ferocious. lol

Voted up and away.

Enjoy your day.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 05, 2012:

rLcasaLme - I am pleased to hear that this piece held your attention. A lion's roar could certainly be scary no matter what it sounds like, and you don't even have to be very close to hear it! Five miles is a long way for sound to travel! I thought the cub was cute also.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments!

Rael Casalme from Dubai, United Arab Emirates on January 05, 2012:

The hub kept me captivated from beginning to end. I've always been fascinated with these charismatic gorgeous cats. The roars of the non-MGM lions showed in youtube was something I do not expect to hear. They're still scary though. The cub is really cute.

I really enjoyed this!

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 04, 2012:

thelyricwriter - I am pleased that you enjoyed it! Here's hoping you have a wonderful new year also.

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on January 04, 2012:

This was a very enjoyable hub Homesteadbound. I also enjoyed all the different videos and useful information. Hope you have a great New Year and take care.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 04, 2012:

Eddy - I am honored that you found this hub to be one of your favorites.I do love those kitties - big and small!

thank you so much!

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 04, 2012:

RTalloni - I love cats also, and one is warming my lap right now. I agree that the old MGM roar is much better, and I do like the visual effects of the new one. And I found the roar of the cub to be precious.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Eiddwen from Wales on January 04, 2012:

A beautiful hub which just has to be awarded an up up and away.

I also bookmark into one of my favourites.

Take care and enjoy your day.


RTalloni on January 03, 2012:

Neat hub. I love cats of all sizes-such magnificent creatures. The original Mr. MGM's roar can't be beat! Those next two lions just sound old and tired to me. The cub is delightful, needless to say. The modern MGM is full of interesting visual effect and music, but the roar, well, too bad they changed it. Thanks for sharing this. :)

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 03, 2012:

davenmidtown - I too believe the roar is used when it is being attacked or feels the need to attack, but I could find no definite answer to verify this. It is interesting to find different authors claiming lions have 3 and 4 different roars, but did not go into any detail of when the different roars were used or how they differs from one another. Thanks so much for sharing this information.

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on January 03, 2012:

I have always felt that the more powerful roars were issued as a last warning before fighting broke out. Lions and other larger cats must fight for a harem or to keep one. young male lions roam as individuals and not as a pride and the same is true of older males who have been displaced by a younger male lion as head of a pride. Prides also force certain younger female lions to leave and they wonder until they find a male to take them in... or vice versa... Because of territorial issues the lion develops a bark type language that serves as a very complex way of communicating with their pride (which may be spread out hunting) or with neighboring prides and solo individuals (females) who may be nearby. The way that lions roar and bark are also a way of mapping territory so that rogue males stay clear as they wonder about the plains. Hope this helps.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 03, 2012:

Indigital, that is such a good question.

When I tried to find an answer to your question, I did find some other interesting information. The leopard, tiger, lion and jaguar are reported as being the only cats that can roar and have been assigned to their own genus, Pahthera. I questioned this in my mind thinking, “What about the mountain lion?” So I looked it up, and it said that a mountain lion “screams.”

The articles also said other interesting things about lion’s roars. The roar is believed to be used as a method of letting other lions know where they are. I found it amazing also, that the force of a lion’s roar can cause a dust cloud. That is some force! Surely on to be reckoned with.

Thanks for stopping by and asking such an interesting question.

Indigital on January 03, 2012:

Isn't a lion's roar fericious when its under threat? I know my cat has many different meows, to show what mood she is in - do lion's not follow that principle?

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 02, 2012:

DonnaCosmato - I agree the roar was not as good, but I too enjoyed the graphics. You would think they could blend the two together, but maybe they never polled their audience!

davenmidtown - Now that I know it's a lion, you are probably right, if I heard it on the African plain... But prior to this, I am not sure that I would have know it was a lion. As many nature shows as I have watched, I'm not sure why it never registered before. But I think I have it now, and a lion's roar, no matter how wimpy should instill fear...

tammyswallow - I really liked the cub roar - if you can call it that - also. It was just so cute! I am pleased that you enjoyed it!

Thanks to all of you for stopping by!

Tammy from North Carolina on January 02, 2012:

I loved it.. especially the cub roar. Well done and full of good stuff. A great read!

David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on January 02, 2012:

An interesting hub HTB! I am sure that much holliwood does is not purely found in nature...but I'd be willing to bet if you were alone on an African plain and heard either type of roar...... lol.... voted up and interesting.

Donna Cosmato from USA on January 02, 2012:

Great and entertaining hub, Cindy! I really liked the sleek look of the new MGM lion but the roar was just lame compared to the classic. It's a shame they did not merge the two to create one awesome update. Voted up.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 01, 2012:

vocalcoach - I am glad you enjoyed it. I wasn't sure about it, but the lion's and cub's roar were so different than I expected. I just couldn't resist.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on January 01, 2012:

This is a wonderful and beautifully done hub! I love lions and the Original MGM lions roar has excited me from the time I was a little girl. It signaled "entertainment" to me. A very unique subject to write a hub about. I'm impressed! Voted up and across.


Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on January 01, 2012:

J.S. Matthews - Thank you so much! I appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to read my hub.

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on January 01, 2012:

Hello homesteadbound! This is another awesome Hub you have created. I liked the video with the cat that sounded like a puppy. It's funny how she hadn't developed her roar quite yet. You have certainly found your "Roar" on HubPages and I have seen a lot of great chatter about you lately. You had a great start on HubPages and I wish you a Happy and Successful New Year! Voted as always...


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