Lion are the most social of all the wild cats. They live and often hunt together, but have a reputation for terrible manners when it comes to sharing food. Related females form prides of around 15 members, while males (related and unrelated) form nomadic coalitions that compete for access to prides. Female offspring of pride members remain in the group as adults, but male cubs leave as they approach adulthood at around three years of age. When a new coalition of males comes into a pride, they often kill young lions so their mothers will be ready to mate again.


Lions are carnivores. Their main prey is wildebeest, antelope, giraffe, buffalo, wild hogs, and zebra, but they also eat carrion. As it slowly sneaks up on its prey, a lion pauses, crouches, and hides until it gets close enough to make chase. If the prey can outrun the lion for more than about 300 feet, the lion usually gives up. Lions are twice as successful when hunting in organized groups.

Life Cycle

Cubs can be born throughout the year, but pride members tend to give birth around the same time. Females have litters of 3 or 4 cubs about every two years. Cubs weigh around 2.5 pounds, and they can take over two years to learn how to survive on their own. Lions usually live about 13 years in zoos but have been known to reach age 30.

Some of My Neighbors

Hyenas, Grevy’s Zebras, Leopards, African wild dogs, African elephants, Impala, Black Rhinoceros, Cheetahs

Population Status & Threats

The lion is classified as a vulnerable species. Its population has declined by up to half in the past 20 years and continues to shrink. Threats include habitat and prey loss, hunting, and civil unrest.

WCS Conservation Efforts

The Laikipia Predator Project in northern Kenya and the Kilimanjaro Lion Conservation Project in southern Kenya are attempting to restore tolerance for lions among pastoralists who see the predators as a threat to their livestock. When lions take ranchers’ livestock, they may be illegally speared or poisoned. These projects aim to monitor the lions and decrease livestock kills by improving animal husbandry practices, such as by helping to build low-cost cattle and sheep enclosures that will keep large predators out.

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