The domestic cat in your home is very much like a lion in the way he behaves. They are the same in many ways. The lion, though, is much bigger and lives in the wild, away from people, unless, of course, the lion is in a zoo. The biggest lion, at about 476 pounds, weighs 20 times more than the biggest domestic cat.
A Big Cat
The lion is a species of wild cat. “Species” means a type of wild cat that is different to the others. The lion is one of four wild cats that are called “big cats”. They are the four cats that are the biggest in the world. All four of them can roar. The four big cats are the lion, tiger, jaguar and the leopard. A lion’s roar can be heard from 5 miles away by a person. Wow. No other cats can roar. Lions roar for more than on reason. One is to keep contact with other lions from a long way away. Lions cannot purr properly like your domestic cat pet. They make a sort of purring sound but it is not a real purr.
King of the Jungle
The lion has been called “The King of the Beasts” and “The King of the Jungle”. We are not sure why. The first saying might come from the bible. At the time of Jesus, the lion also lived in the same place where Jesus lived, which is Palestine. The people of Palestine knew the lion and at that time, more than 2000 years ago, the lion was seen as the strongest animal of all. The lion’s beautiful mane around its head looked like a king’s crown. A lion’s mane is the long fur around the face.
The lion, though, does not live in the jungle. The lion likes to live in open areas where there is grass and some trees. Nowadays these grassy places where the lion lives are in many areas of Africa and in a small area in the north east of India. The lion no longer lives in Palestine. This is because people were frightened of the lion and killed it. This still happens today. You can see these places on the map on this page. There are less places where you can see the lion compared to years ago. The number of lions in the world is getting less and less every year. This is because there are more and more people in the world every year and people don’t really get on that well with the lion.
Lion vs Tiger
The lion is the second largest of all the cat species. The largest is the tiger. The lion, though, is taller. The height of a cat is measured from the ground to the shoulder. People like to argue over which cat, the tiger or lion, is the best fighter. Who would win a fight between the lion and tiger? People who know these cats very well say the tiger would win. But people who like both cats still argue over this.
There are some other things about the lion that are very interesting. The male lion is the only cat that has a mane and both the lioness (female lion) and lion are the only cats that like to live together. As I said, a mane is the long fur around the head, neck and shoulders. This fur helps to protect the lion from a bite or blow and it makes him look bigger and more important. Mane’s have slightly different colors. When the mane is bigger and darker it means the lion is more healthy. Lionesses like lions with big manes that are dark. This is because lions with these manes are probably better fathers because when they have a family the cubs will be stronger.
Lions living together make a group. A group of lions is called a “pride of lions”. In fact, a pride of lions is a group of lionesses who are related to each other and their young cubs and more grown up cubs. They are one big family. They like being part of a group. There are also up to about seven male lions in a pride. The male lions join in because it means they can live more easily.
This is because the female lions, the lionesses, do most of the hunting and kill the animals they want to eat but the male lion will join in after the animal in killed and eat first. Does this mean the male lion is lazy? Yes, probably and he is the boss.
Male lions do something nasty when they join a pride. They kill the cubs. They do this so they can then be father of new cubs by mating with the lionesses. The reason is they want their own cubs. When this happens it is called “lion infanticide” – a long word. It is a cruel natural world.
Lions are pretty good at catching animals to eat. Very roughly, out of every ten tries to catch an animal to kill and eat, the lion will be successful about 3 times. That is not bad.
Did you know that the lion is probably the laziest of all the wild cats? The lion sleeps for 19 hours every day. That leaves 5 hours to do other things. In those 5 hours the lion moves around looking for animals to kill to eat for about 3 hours. The rest of the time the lion is chasing animals to catch and then eating them.
The lion and tiger are probably the most admired of all the wild animals in the world.