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Pictures of Lions
Weighing up to 250 kilograms (550 lbs) and standing up to 175 centimeters (5’9”) tall at the shoulders, the lion is the second largest cat after the tiger. Wild lions live in sub-Saharan Africa and a wildlife sanctuary in India. The furry mane of the adult male is the lion’s most distinctive trait. Similar to a peacock’s tail, the size and color of a lion’s mane serves as a signal to other lions about the male’s fitness and fighting ability. Female lions, or lionesses, do not have manes and are somewhat smaller in weight and height than the males. Lions live in groups called prides, which are centered around a group of related lionesses who do most of the hunting for the pride. A tribe usually consists of about five or six lionesses, their cubs, and one or two males. Some lions do not live as part of prides; these lions are nomads and live alone or in pairs.
Pictures of Lions Sleeping
Lions sleep more than any other animal in Africa—about 14 hours a day on average, but sometimes up to 20 hours or more! Why do lions spend so much time sleeping? The answer has to do with their physiology and the way they hunt. Lions have a huge amount of muscle to help them accelerate quickly and take down large prey. Having so much muscle generates a lot of metabolic heat, and sleeping helps lions stay cool. Also, the life of a hunter is unpredictable; a lion might eat just once every few days. Lions have large stomachs, and resting a lot makes their infrequent meals last longer.
Pictures of Lion Cubs
The female lion gives birth to a litter of 1-4 cubs in a secluded den, such as a cave or thicket. Cubs are born helpless—they don’t open their eyes until a week after birth, and they don’t walk until they are three weeks old. Cubs are born with brown spots on their bodies that fade as they reach adulthood. To avoid predators, a lioness moves her cubs to a new den every week or two until they are 6-8 weeks old, when she finally rejoins the pride with her cubs. Young cubs face many threats: starvation when older cubs dominate the food supply, attacks by outside males who try to take over a pride, and predators such as leopards, hyenas, jackals, snakes, and eagles. Because of these dangers, about 80% of lion cubs die before the age of two in the wild.
Pictures of White Lions
Rather than a distinct subspecies, the white lion is actually a type of lion with a rare genetic condition called leucism. White lions range from blonde to near-white in color, which is caused by a recessive mutation in a gene responsible for fur and skin pigment. Though some do exist in the wild, white lions are most commonly found in captivity, where breeders select for the trait.
Pictures of Lions Hunting
The lioness typically hunts for the pride while the males stay behind to watch the cubs. Males sometimes assist with unusually large or difficult prey. Because lions can only run short distances before overheating, lions generally work together to stalk and surround their prey from different points. Their preferred prey is wildebeest and zebra, though they are also known to hunt a variety of other animals such as giraffe and buffalo, depending on the region.
Pictures of Lions Roaring
Lions are highly territorial animals, and lion prides have been known to inhabit the same area for generations. Lions roar as a way to announce their presence, and their roars can be heard from as far away as 8 kilometers (5 miles).