Do lions feel love?

Lions in love!
Lions in love! Screenshot.
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It’s a sentimental question but a fair one and the answer has to be yes if we define love as a strong emotional connection between sentient beings. You never see any reference to lions feeling love for each other in the books on the wild cat species. They are all about science and the functionality of wild cats. But then you have the video on Twitter which I have reproduced below of a captive male and female lion. If that isn’t love I don’t know what is! These two are behaving like humans cuddling and kissing each other. Their behaviour is incredibly similar to human behaviour and you can only have one conclusion: they’re in love! πŸ™‚

Note: This is an embedded tweet. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.


And on the Internet, you will see the reunion of lions with humans after they have been apart for a long time. The lion charges at the human and raises himself up onto his hind legs and hugs the human. Once again there is only one conclusion; a strong emotional bond between lion and human and vice versa. You can see no difference in the behaviour between the human and the lion in the expression of emotion in these meetings after being years apart.

Long-term memory of cats
Lions have good long-term memories in relation to recognising humans years later. The same goes for domestic cats.

My mind is drawn to the famous story of Christian the lion who was born in captivity and purchased from the Harrods department store in London in 1969. Christian was raised in an apartment by a couple of Australian guys, John Rendall and Anthony Bourke until he was too big, when he was released into the African wild by conservationist George Adamson. A year after Christian became a successful wild lion having acquired to lionesses there was a reunion in Africa between the guys and Christian. Christian came out of the arid Bush of Africa down a slope towards the guys who raised him. Christian recognised them and lunged at them not in anger but in deep affection. He hugged them while standing on his hind legs. Once again it is impossible to come to any other conclusion than that lions can feel love as good as the love that humans feel between each other.

Christian the lion reunion
Christian the lion reunion

On a more scientific note, as mentioned, lion relationships are functional. However male lions rarely fight each other over females in heat. The first male to reach a female in heat takes ‘possession of her’ and tries to prevent other males getting close to her. He guards her for one or two days prior to mating and sometimes six days after mating. Sounds a bit like men! Is this a very subtle indication of a kind of love between wild lions? Probably/possibly not. It is probably purely functional as stated. However, we often see parents playing with their cubs in the wild with affection.

Below is a video on YouTube showing a male and female lion behaving like humans making love. It’s a bit melodramatic but it makes the point and I think it supports the argument that lions do feel love in their way. And I don’t think their way is very different to ours. We do share 90% of our genetics with lions and tigers and any other cat. And we share lots of illnesses. Our anatomy is quite similar. These facts help to support the argument that lions feel love in their way.

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.


I would like to hear your views on this. You won’t find the scientists discussing it. The articles are anecdotal, just like mine. They are thoughts and it is not science. But then again, you can’t talk about love through science.

I also think that cats in general, and I am referring mainly to domestic cats, can have chemistry between each other just like humans. What I mean is they like another cat or they dislike another cat and the only reason you can see is because of the chemistry between them.

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