Cedarhill Animal Sanctuary – Home

Whipped…Abandoned in freezing weather… Locked in a room without fresh air or sunshine… Chains wrapped around growing necks

 Lion (Panthera leo)

Lion (Panthera leo) – The lion is classified as an Old World mammal, the Atlantic ocean separating the Old World from the New World mammals.

Along with the tiger, leopard, and jaguar it is one of the four big cats that make up the genus Panthera.

Although lions were once widespread throughout much of Africa, Asia, and Europe, they only currently exist in the wild in Africa, with a critically endangered remnant population in India.

The oldest confirmed record of lion in Africa dates back 1.5 million years.

The lion appeared in Europe 700,000 years ago, and until about 10,000 years ago lions were common in America and Eurasia, but died out at the end of the last glaciation.

Genetic evidence suggests that all modern lions derived from one common ancestor circa 55,000 years ago.

The male lion weighs between 330-500 lbs, and is instantly recognizable by its mane.

Females range 260-330 lbs. In the wild, lions live for around 10-14 years, are adapted to hot climates, and typically range across savanna and grassland.

Their coloration varies from light buff to yellowish, reddish or dark brown.

The color of manes varies from blonde to black.

A heavy mane may provide an indicator of a lion’s genetic and physical health.

For instance, castrated lions have minimal manes, and manelessness is also found in inbred lion populations.

Lions are distinct in the cat family because they live and hunt together, in “prides”.

Each pride consists of related females, their cubs, and anywhere from 1-4 males.

There are some male lions that have not been able to secure their own pride, and they roam as nomads, sometimes in pairs.

Female lionesses are the primary hunters, although males will occasionally help when a large animal is the target.

Lions can reach speeds of 50 mph, but they lack the endurance to run long distances.

Thus, they typically sneak up to within 100 ft or less of their prey, and employ teamwork by encircling the victim from different points.

The attack is short and powerful, and the prey is usually killed by strangulation.

An adult female lion needs about 11 lbs of meat a day, a male about 15 lbs.

When not hunting, lions spend a lot of time resting, around 20 hours a day!

Lions do not usually attack humans, although some (usually male) lions seem to seek out human prey.

No one has come up with a valid explanation for this, but human encroachment into lion habitat is a probable cause.

However, statistics show that tigers, both wild and captive, are much more likely to attack humans.

Current estimates of the African lion population range between 16,000 and 30,000 living in the wild, down from 100,000 in the early 1990s.

There are less than 300 remaining Asiatic lions in India. Increased contact with human development is cited as the primary cause.

The lion is listed as a vulnerable species, and most likely will be classified as endangered in the next decade.

Bernard Rodriguez

Back to top