OPEN 365 DAYS A YEAR & FREE

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OPEN 365 DAYS A YEAR & FREE

Location, Hours & Directions

African Lion Fact Sheet

  • Latin Name

    Panthera leo krugeri
  • Class

    Mammals
  • Order

    Carnivora
  • Description

    Large predators, African lions can weigh up to 500 pounds. The species' tan coat blends in among the vegetation of its home, helping it to stalk prey. Males are larger than females and can be distinguished by their mane, which surrounds the head and extends down to the chest.

  • Range

    African lions can be found from the southern Sahara Desert down to southern Africa, excluding the Congo rain forest region.
  • Status

    African lion populations are classified as vulnerable, with numbers declining due to habitat loss throughout Africa. Lincoln Park Zoo scientists are helping to conserve the species through the zoo-managed Serengeti Health Initiative, a research program dedicated to studying the Serengeti ecosystem and conserving its wildlife. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Lion Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
  • Habitat

    African lions inhabit grasslands and open woods.
  • Niche

    The big cats prey on large hoofed animals, such as gazelles, impalas, zebras and wildebeest. They will also scavenge and eat smaller prey, if necessary. Hunting often occurs in groups. The males’ manes and larger size make them more conspicuous, so females do the majority of the hunting. Hunting takes place at night and in early morning. Prides can spend up to 20 hours per day sleeping.
  • Life History

    Lions live in prides of 2-40 members; the average group has 13 members. The species breeds year-round. Males compete fiercely for the ability to breed with prides of females. Young males often band together to gain control of a pride, with stronger males forcing weaker ones out in battles that can end in the death of the loser. The females of a pride often give birth in close proximity and can help one another care for their cubs. Cubs are kept in hiding for the first eight weeks of their lives and remain dependent on adults until they are 16 months of age. Females remain in their pride upon reaching maturity, while males leave the group at 2.5 years, living nomadically for a time before seeking to take over their own pride.
  • Special Adaptations

    • The lion's archetypal roar is used to communicate with other group members and warn intruders of territorial boundaries.
    • Long, retractable claws help the lion to grab and hold prey.
    • The species' rough tongue helps it to peel the skin of prey animals away from flesh and flesh away from bone.
    • Loose belly skin allows the African lion to be kicked by prey with little chance of injury.

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2001 North Clark Street • Chicago, IL 60614 • 312-742-2000

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