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Scientific Name: 
Panthera leo
Phylum: 
Chordata
Species class: 
Mammalia
Order: 
Carnivora
Family: 
Felidae
Genus: 
Panthera
Species: 
leo
Status: 
Vulnerable
Population Trend: 
Decreasing
Quick Facts

Life Span:10-14 years in wild, up to 25 in captivity

Size: 1.5-2.5m

Weight: 120-250kgs. Males average 180kgs and females 125kgs.

Speed: Up to 60km/hr

Collective Noun: Pride

Fun Facts

Hunting: Females do most of the hunting and work together to capture prey. Males are equally capable hunters with lone male lions easily able to catch and kill adult Zebra.   The entire pride feeds on the kill, however the males often get to eat first before the females and cubs.

Pride Males: The primary role of the males is to protect the pride and its cubs by defending the prides territory from other lions and keeping roaming males away. If defeated by a new group of males, all cubs unable to leave the pride are killed so that the females will only rear cubs of the current pride males.

Social Cats: Lions are the only truly social big cat. They live in prides of up to 40 individuals, including several related adult males, and 4-6 related females and their cubs. The females tend to give birth at the same time, creating a nursery environment.

Adult males live alone or in coalitions. A coalition defends large areas against other males to keep their mating rights. Coalitions last for about 2-3years.

Keeping Hydrated: Lions will drink regularly when water is available, but they are also able to obtain moisture requirements from prey and plants (such as the tsama melon in the Kalahari desert), enabling them to survive even in very arid environments. 

Manes: A lion’s large, healthy, mane says two key things: ‘stay away’ to other males, and ‘come here’ to females. A good mane is an indicator of good nutrition and good genes. Males do pay a price for having a lustrous mane, as it is harder for them to hide from their prey, harder to move through bushland and it harbours a greater numbers of parasites

Jacobson’s Organ: Lions and other cats (including your domestic cat) have an extraordinary organ in the roof of their mouths, called the Jacobson's organ, which allows them to "taste" smells.

Loud Roar: A lions roar can be heard for over 8km

Life is hard for male lions. They must fight for dominance, and once gained it will be constantly challenged

Lions can leap up to 12m!

Distribution Map: 

Lions are one of the most renowned big cats native to Sub-Saharan Africa. They are golden in colour and males have a distinctively impressive mane. 

At Taronga:

Taronga Zoo currently has a pride of3 lions: a male named Jambo/Bruiser (DOB: 19/08/1999), and two females Kuchani (DOB: 6/5/2001) and Asali (DOB:28/08/2003). "Asali" is Swahili for "honey".

Our 4th Lion; Johari (DOB:28/08/2003) recently moved to Werribee Open Range Zoo in Victoria. It is hoped that he will soon be pared with a female and start his own pride.

Bruiser is the dominant male and father of Asali. He was hand raised by keepers at Taronga Zoo along with his two sisters – one of whom lives at Taronga Western Plains Zoo and the other at Perth Zoo. Bruiser is considered to be a ‘big sweetheart’ by his keepers!

We hope Bruiser and Kuchani will breed again, which will also allow for Asali to gain valuable experience with cub rearing and responsibilities.

Our lions will only fight over 3 things- Food, toys and their exhibit bed board. A couple of years ago when Johari and Asali became fully grown, keepers had to extend the bed board as Johari kept pushing Bruiser off, making him very angry! 

Kuchani is lighter in colour than her daughter Asali, who is considered the princess of the pride. 

Food and Enrichment: At Taronga our lions are fed a wide variety of meats including rabbit, beef, kangaroo, and chicken. They love eggs, as they were brought up with them. It is a funny sight to see the egg yolk dripping down the side of Bruisers mouth when he has an egg inside. On hot days they are given ‘bloodcicles’ or milk icicles

Keepers spray essential oils like sandalwood and ylang ylang around their exhibit, as well as provide spices and fresh herbs for enrichment. Their favourite sensory items are actually elephant and zebra faeces. They can be found sniffing them, rolling in them, and even sometimes eating them!

Region: 
Source: 
www.iucnredlist.org
Year assessed: 
2008