African Lion
Scientific Name
Panthera leo
Geographic Range
Sub-Saharan Africa
A variety of prey, especially zebra and antelopes
Endangered Status Graph - Vulnerable Endangered Status Graph - Vulnerable

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Lions are the second-largest big cat species behind tigers. Males may weigh up to 500 pounds and measure up to 8 feet long; they also have characteristic manes that vary in color, size, and thickness and darken with age. Juveniles often have brown spots. Prides control large home territories and move around in temporary subgroups, so the pride is not always in a single location.

Females are the primary hunters, especially during group hunts. In general, though, lions are inactive. Males rest for 20 or more hours per day. All lions are more likely to sleep during the midday hours. Lions do not have a single breeding season, but litters typically consist of two to four cubs. Cubs nurse for six months and become sub-adults between 1–2 years old. Males are eventually expelled and leave, often in pairs, and try to take over other prides.

Did You Know?

  • Most other cat species are solitary, but lions are social animals, living in prides made up of a male lion or coalition of males, plus related females with their offspring.
  • In an open savanna, a lion’s roar can be heard up to five miles away.
  • Lions have disappeared from 92 percent of their historic range. Populations are declining due to habitat loss, lack of prey, and conflict with people due to livestock predation. Lincoln Park Zoo is one organization looking to safeguard lion populations through its partnership with KopeLion and by protecting Tanzanian migration routes.

Caring for African Lions

Pepper Family Wildlife Center, Lincoln Park Zoo’s new home for lions and other carnivores, is now open! The renovation of this state-of-the-art space, guided by years of behavioral data, includes habitat features that promote positive animal welfare.

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Collaborating to Conserve Lions

Lincoln Park Zoo works with partners in Tanzania to support healthy lion populations, which have suffered severe declines across their range over the past 25 years. Very few sustainable lion populations remain in Africa, and they are restricted to a small set of protected areas.

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