African lion

Big cats are some of the most successful predators on the planet, and the African lion has to be the king of them all. Or perhaps we should say queen, as in lion family groups (or prides) females do most of the hunting. The lion is the only cat to form close-knit, long-term social groups of this kind and young are often raised communally, suckling from a number of different females.

A male lion is easily distinguishable by his thick mane of hair round the face and neck, which varies in colour and size from male to male. The mane is used to protect the lion’s neck during fights and also helps to make him look bigger and more dominant to attract females.

Male lions are also famous for being lazy. In the wild, and indeed here at Blair Drummond, they are often to be found lazing on their backs with legs splayed in the air. They can spend between 16 and 20 hours of the day asleep!

Scientific name
Panthera Leo
Family
Felidae
Order
Carnivora
Lifespan
25 years in captivity, 15 years in the wild.
Fast facts
Lions are the only truly social cat species, and live in groups called prides (5 to 35 closely related females).
Lions work in teams to stalk and ambush prey animals such as zebra, buffalo and giraffe.
Conservation status
Vulnerable