Scientific classification: The lion is a member of the cat family, Felidae, in the carnivore order, Carnivora, and is classified as Panthera leo.
Lions are one of the largest members of the cat family. The lion’s size and strength have captured human imagination since ancient times, giving these animals the nickname king of beasts. Lions are also known for their mighty roar, a fearsome sound that can be heard by humans more than 8 km (5 mi) away.
Lions rival tigers for the title of biggest cat. In fact, lions and tigers are so similar in their physical features that without their distinctively colored fur, even scientists have trouble telling them apart. Male lions weigh between 150 and 250 kg (330 and 550 lb) and stand about 123 cm (about 48 in) tall at the shoulder. They measure up to 250 cm (98 in) in length, not including the tail, life cycle of a lion which measures an additional 90 to 105 cm (35 to 41 in). Female lions are smaller, weighing between 120 and 182 kg (265 and 400 lb). They stand about 107 cm (about 42 in) tall and measure less than 175 cm (less than 69 in) in length, with a slightly shorter tail.
Lions have massive shoulders and strong forelimbs, long, sharp claws, and short, powerful jaws. As carnivores, feeding entirely on the flesh of other mammals, lions have 30 teeth, including large piercing canines to grab and kill prey, scissorlike molars to slice into flesh, and small incisors to scrape meat from bones.
Lions are unusual among cats for their habit of living in groups. A pride consists of 2 to 12 adult females and their cubs. All of the females are related: sisters, mothers, aunts, and cousins. Born into a pride, a female will stay in it for life, although a large pride may split into smaller ones. Pride females care for cubs together, hunt and eat together, and aggressively defend their hunting grounds and water holes from other prides. Equally important, pride females must often defend their cubs from groups of males.
Unlike females, male cubs are driven from the pride when they are between two and four years old. If they are lucky, they leave with brothers and cousins; if not, they team up with unrelated males. These groups of two to six males are called coalitions. The goal of a coalition is to join a pride of females to mate and have young. This usually involves chasing off the coalition currently in residence with a pride, life cycle of a lion, although resident males do not leave willingly. Bloody combat may take place, with the larger of the competing coalitions generally winning the pride.
Hunting amongst Lions
Living with a pride is important for male lions because they typically feed on the kills made by the females. Lions are powerful hunters, but depending on the prey, they make a kill only once in about every five attempts. Often, lions scavenge, or steal prey, from other carnivores, such as hyenas. For all members of a pride, feeding is a free-for-all. life cycle of a lion The big males eat first followed by the females, who compete among themselves, no matter which female or females actually made the kill. Cubs receive no special treatment and eat last.