One of the most majestic animals on Earth, the lion is the second largest cat after the tiger. They exist almost exclusively in Africa with the exception of one population of around 200 in the Gir Forest of Gujarat, India.
“Lions are the only true wild social cat living in prides, which can be as large as up to 40 individuals,” says David Youldon, chief operating officer for the African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT), based in Livingstone, Zambia. On average, a pride consists of 13 individuals: one to two adult males (age 3 to 8 years), four to five adult females, three to four adolescents (age 2 to 3 years) and two to three cubs (birth to age 2 years).
Differences between males and females are more pronounced than in any feline species. Males weigh between 330 and 550 pounds and females between 260 and 400 pounds.
Males are known for their large manes, although there is a population of male lions of Tsavo National Park in Kenya that do not have manes.
**Get the March 2012 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article or click here to purchase a PDF version.**