P. l. atrox
P. l. europaea
P. l. melanochaita (Sensu stricto)
P. l. sinhaleyus
P. l. spelaea
P. l. vereshchagini
Panthera leo in
Africa and Eurasia, in the past and
Felis leo Linnaeus, 1758
The lion (
Panthera leo) is a species in the family
Felidae and a
member of the genus Panthera. It is the second largest extant species
after the tiger. It exhibits a pronounced sexual dimorphism; males are
larger than females with a typical weight range of 150 to 250 kg
(331 to 551 lb) for the former and 120 to 182 kg (265 to
401 lb) for the latter. In addition, male lions have a prominent
mane, which is perhaps the most recognisable feature of the species.
Both sexes have hairy tufts at the end of their tails.
In the Pleistocene, lions were the most widespread large land mammals
and ranged throughout Eurasia,
Africa and North America. Today, the
lion occurs in fragmented populations in Sub-Saharan
Africa and one in
western India. It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List
since 1996, as populations in African range countries declined by
about 43% since the early 1990s.
Lion populations are untenable
outside designated protected areas. Although the cause of the decline
is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are
the greatest causes of concern. The
Asiatic lion and the West African
lion are listed as
Endangered and Critically Endangered, respectively.
The lion typically inhabits grasslands and savannahs, but is absent in
dense forests. It is usually more diurnal than other big cats, but
when persecuted adapts to being active at night and at twilight. A
lion pride consists of a few adult males, related females and cubs.
Prides vary in size and composition from three to 20 adult lions,
depending on habitat and prey availability. Females cooperate when
hunting and prey mostly on large ungulates, including antelope, deer,
buffalo, zebra and even giraffe.
The lion is one of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human
culture. It has been extensively depicted in sculptures and paintings,
on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature. Lions
have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire, and
have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoos over the world
since the late 18th century.
Cultural depictions of lions
Cultural depictions of lions are known
Upper Paleolithic period, with carvings and paintings from
Lascaux and Chauvet Caves in
France dated to 17,000 years ago,
through virtually all ancient and medieval cultures where they once
2.1 Modern subspecies
2.1.1 Phylogenetic research
2.3 Dubious subspecies
4.2 Colour variation
5 Behaviour and ecology
5.1 Group organisation
5.2 Hunting and diet
5.2.1 Predator competition
5.3 Reproduction and life cycle
6 Distribution and habitat
7 Population and conservation status
7.1 In Africa
7.2 In Asia
7.3 In captivity
8 Cultural significance
8.1 In entertainment
8.2 Cutural depictions
9 See also
10.1 Cited texts
11 External links
The lion's name, similar in many Romance languages, is derived from
Latin Latin: leo, and the
Ancient Greek λέων (leon). The
Hebrew word לָבִיא (lavi) may also be related.
Two cladograms proposed for Panthera. The upper cladogram is based on
the 2006 and 2009 studies, while the lower one is based on the
2010 and 2011 studies.
The lion's closest relatives are the other species of the genus
Panthera: the tiger, snow leopard, jaguar, and leopard. Results of
phylogenetic studies published in 2006 and 2009 indicated that the
jaguar and the lion belong to one sister group, which diverged about
2.06 million years ago. Results of later studies published in
2010 and 2011 indicate that the leopard and the lion belong to the
same sister group, which diverged 1.95–3.10 million years
ago. The lion and the snow leopard diverged about 2.1 million
Range map showing lion subspecies that were considered valid in the
late 20th century
Carl Linnaeus described the lion in his work Systema Naturae
and gave it the scientific name
Felis leo. Between the mid 18th and
mid 20th centuries, 26 lion specimens were described and proposed as
subspecies, of which 11 were recognised as valid in 2005. They were
distinguished on the basis of appearance, size and colour of mane. As
these characteristics vary highly between individuals, most of these
forms were probably not true subspecies, especially as they were often
based upon museum material with "striking, but abnormal" morphological
Based on morphology of 58 lion skulls in three European museums, the
subspecies krugeri, nubica, persica, and senegalensis were assessed
distinct; but bleyenberghi overlapped with senegalensis and krugeri.
Asiatic lion persica was the most distinctive, and the Cape lion
had characteristics allying it more with P. l. persica than the other
sub-Saharan lions. Until 2016, eight subspecies were accepted and
Early phylogenetic research was focused on lions from eastern and
southern parts of Africa, and already showed that they can possibly be
divided in two main clades: one to the west of the Great Rift Valley
and the other to the east. Lions in eastern
Kenya are genetically much
closer to lions in Southern
Africa than to lions in the Aberdare
National Park in western Kenya.
In a subsequent study, tissue and bone samples of 32 lion specimens in
museums were used. Results indicated that lions form three
phylogeographic groups, one each in North
Africa and Asia, in Central
Africa and in Southern Africa.
Samples of 53 lions, both wild and captive individuals, from 15
countries were used for phylogenetic analysis. Results showed little
genetic diversity between lions from Asia, West and Central Africa,
whereas lions from East
Africa were genetically closer to lions from
Results of another phylogeographic study indicate that southeastern
Somalia and northern
Kenya are genetic admixture
regions between lions from Central
Africa and Southern Africa, and
that lions in the northern part of Central
Africa are genetically
closer to lions in North and West Africa, and those in the southern
part of Central
Africa closer to lions in Southern Africa.
The majority of lions kept in zoos are hybrids of different
subspecies. Approximately 77% of the captive lions registered by the
Species Information System are of unknown origin.
Nonetheless, they might carry genes that are extinct in the wild, and
might be therefore important to maintain overall genetic variability
of the lion. It is thought that those lions, imported to Europe
before the middle of the 19th century, were mainly either Barbary
lions from North Africa, or Cape lions from Southern Africa.
Between 2008 and 2016,
IUCN Red List
IUCN Red List assessors for lions used only two
subspecific names, P. l. leo for African lion populations and P. l.
persica for the
Asiatic lion population. In 2017, the Cat
Classification Task Force of the
Cat Specialist Group
Cat Specialist Group assigned the
lion populations in Asia and West, Central and North
Africa to P. l.
leo, and those in Southern and East
Africa to P. l. melanochaita.
The following table is based on the classification of the species
Panthera leo provided in
Species of the World. It also reflects
the classification used by
IUCN Red List
IUCN Red List assessors and the revision by
Cat Classification Task Force:
North African lion
North African lion (P. l. leo) (Linnaeus, 1758), syn. P. l. nubica
(de Blainville, 1843), P. l. somaliensis (Noack, 1891)
This is the nominate lion subspecies. In North Africa, lions are
regionally extinct in the wild due to excessive hunting; the last
Barbary lion was killed in
Morocco in 1942. Small groups of
lions may have survived until the 1960s.
A few captive lions are likely from North Africa, particularly the 90
individuals descended from the Moroccan Royal collection at Rabat
Zoo. It is genetically more closely related to the Asiatic
lion than to lions in East and Southern Africa.
In Algeria, Egypt, Libya,
Morocco and Tunisia, lions are regionally
Asiatic lion (P. l. leo) formerly (P. l. persica) (Meyer,
Asiatic lion population survives only in India's state of
Gujarat and is listed as Endangered. Until the late 19th century,
its historical range included eastern Turkey, Iran, the former Sind
Province to Central India.
The Indian population recovered from the brink of extinction to 411
individuals in 2010. It is protected in the
Gir National Park
Gir National Park and four
protected areas in the region.
Results of phylogeographic studies suggest that its ancestors split
from lions in Sub-Saharan
Africa between 203 and 74 thousand years
ago. Its closest relatives are North African and West African
West African lion
West African lion (P. l. leo) formerly (P. l. senegalensis)
(Meyer, 1826), syn. P. l. kamptzi (Matschie, 1900)
The type specimen originated in Senegal.
This population has been listed as Critically
Endangered in 2015 and
survives in West
Africa from Senegal, Burkina Faso,
Nigeria. It is possibly extinct in Mauritania, Mali, Ghana, Guinea,
Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Central African lion
Central African lion (P. l. leo) formerly P. l. azandica
The type specimen was a male lion from northeastern Belgian Congo.
The population occurs in the northeastern parts of the Democratic
Republic of the Congo and Uganda. It is locally extinct in
Cape lion (P. l. melanochaita) (Smith, 1842)
The type specimen originated at the Cape of Good Hope. The
population lived in the
Cape Province and Natal, South Africa.
East African lion
East African lion (P. l. melanochaita), (P. l. leo) formerly P.
l. massaica (Neumann, 1900), syn. P. l. sabakiensis (Lönnberg, 1910),
P. l. roosevelti (Heller, 1914); P. l. nyanzae (Heller, 1914); P. l.
hollisteri (Allen), 1924) P. l. webbiensis (Zukowsky, 1964)
Several type specimen were described from East African range
In East Africa, lion populations occur in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia,
South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, but are regionally extinct in
Egypt and Eritrea.
Southern African lion
Southern African lion (P. l. melanochaita) (P. l. leo) formerly
P. l. bleyenberghi (Lönnberg, 1914), P. l. krugeri (Roberts, 1929),
syn. P. l. vernayi (Roberts, 1948)
Several type specimen were described from Southern African range
countries. Recorded body weights of individuals indicate that it
is the heaviest of wild African lions.
Africa lions occur in Namibia,
Angola and northern
Botswana. In the southwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, they are considered regionally extinct.
Additional lion subspecies, or sister species to the modern lion,
existed in prehistoric times:
Bone fragments classified under
Panthera leo fossilis were excavated
in Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and Czech Republic, and are
estimated at between 680,000 and 600,000 years old. It was larger
than today's African lions, reaching sizes comparable to the American
cave lion and slightly larger than the Upper
Pleistocene European cave
Bone fragments classified under
Panthera leo spelaea were excavated in
Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, and
Hungary, and are estimated at between 109,000 and 14,000 years
old. This lion-like cat occurred in
Eurasia about 300,000 to
10,000 years ago, and is known as the European cave lion, Eurasian
cave lion, or Upper
Pleistocene European cave lion. It is depicted
Paleolithic cave paintings, ivory carvings, and clay busts, which
show it with protruding ears, tufted tails, and faint tiger-like
stripes. A few had a ruff or primitive mane around their necks,
possibly indicating males, but many scenes show hunting behavior.
P. l. atrox or P. atrox, known as the
American lion or American cave
lion, existed in the Americas from
Peru in the Pleistocene
Epoch until about 10,000 years ago. This form is a sister clade of P.
l. spelaea, and likely arose when an early P. l. spelaea population
became isolated south of the North American continental ice sheet
about 0.34 Mya. It is among the largest purported lion subspecies
to have existed, its body length is estimated to have been
1.6–2.5 m (5.2–8.2 ft).
A cylinder seal from
Elam (now Iran) featuring an Elamite adaptation
of the Babylonian theme of the lion hunt. 800–600 BC. Underbelly
hair is visible. Now at the Walters Art Museum.
P. l. youngi or
Panthera youngi, flourished 350,000 years ago. Its
relationship to the extant lion subspecies is obscure, and it probably
represents a distinct species.
P. l. vereshchagini was proposed as subspecies of the spelaea cave
lion on the basis of skulls and teeth found in Yakutia, Russia, which
were smaller in size than average spelaea bone fragments. Analysis
of mitochondrial DNA sequences obtained from cave lion fossils
provided no evidence for a distinct subspecific status of these
P. l. mesopotamica was described on the basis of a relief from the
Neo-Assyrian Period, about 1000–600 BC, in ancient Mesopotamia.
P. l. europaea was proposed for subfossil remains of lions excavated
in Southern Europe that date to the Late Neolith to the Early Iron
P. l. maculatus, known as the
Marozi or spotted lion, sometimes is
thought to be a distinct subspecies, but may be an adult lion that has
retained its juvenile spotted pattern. If it was a subspecies in its
own right, rather than a small number of aberrantly coloured
individuals, it has been extinct since 1931. A less likely identity is
a natural leopard-lion hybrid commonly known as a leopon.
Panthera hybrid, Liger, and Tigon
Video of lioness and her cubs in the wild, South Africa
Lions have been known to breed with tigers (most often the Siberian
and Bengal tigers) to create hybrids called 'ligers' and 'tiglons' (or
'tigons'). They also have been crossed with leopards to
produce leopons. Such hybrid breeding is now discouraged due to
the emphasis on conserving species and subspecies. Hybrids are still
bred in private menageries and in zoos in China.
The liger is a cross between a male lion and a tigress. Because
the growth-inhibiting gene from the female tiger mother is absent, the
growth-promoting gene passed on by the male lion father is unimpeded
by a regulating gene and the resulting ligers grow far larger than
either parent. They share physical and behavioural qualities of both
parent species (spots and stripes on a sandy background). Male ligers
are sterile, but female ligers often are fertile. Males have about a
50% chance of having a mane, but if they grow them, their manes will
be modest: around 50% the size of a pure lion mane. Ligers are much
bigger than normal lions and tigers, typically 3.65 m
(12.0 ft) in length, and can weigh up to 500 kg
The less common tiglon or tigon is a cross between a lioness and a
male tiger. In contrast to ligers, tigons are often relatively
small in comparison to their parents, because of reciprocal gene
The lion evolved in
Africa between 1 million and 800,000 years ago,
from where it spread throughout the
Holarctic region. The earliest
fossil record in Europe was found near
Pakefield in the United Kingdom
and is about 680,000 years old. From this lion the late
Pleistocene Eurasian cave lion probably derived about 300,000 years
Fossil remains found in the Cromer
Forest Bed suggest that it
was of a gigantic size and represented a lineage that was genetically
isolated and highly distinct from lions in
Africa and Asia. It was
distributed throughout Europe, across
Siberia and into western Alaska,
via the Beringian landmass. The gradual formation of dense forest
likely caused the decline of its geographic range near the end of the
Late Pleistocene. Frequently encountered lion bones in cave deposits
Eemian times suggest that the cave lion survived in the Balkans
and Asia Minor. There was probably a continuous population extending
Fossil lion remains were found in
in West Bengal. It became extinct about 10,000 years ago at the
end of the last glacial period without mitochondrial descendants on
A fossil carnassial found in the Batadomba Cave indicates that
Panthera leo sinhaleyus inhabited
Sri Lanka during the late
Pleistocene, and is thought to have become extinct around 39,000 years
ago. This subspecies was described by Deraniyagala in 1939. It is
distinct from the contemporary lion.
The modern lion probably originated in East and Southern
100,000 years ago. During the last glacial maximum until about
20,000 years ago, it was likely distributed throughout most of
Southern and Central Africa, and expanded its range northwards during
Holocene about 10,000 to 4,000 years ago.
Male and female lion
Southern African lion
Southern African lion in the area of Okonjima, Namibia
Female lion in Okonjima
The lion is a muscular, deep-chested cat with a short, rounded head, a
reduced neck and round ears. The colour of its fur varies from light
buff to silverly gray, to yellowish red and dark brown. The
underparts are generally lighter, and cubs are born with dark spots on
their bodies. The spots fade as lions reach adulthood, although faint
spots often may still be seen on the legs and underparts. The lion is
the only member of the cat family that displays obvious sexual
dimorphism. Males are more robust than females, have broader heads and
a prominent mane, which grows downward and backward and covers most of
the head, neck, shoulders, and chest. The mane is typically brownish
and tinged with yellow, rust, and black hairs. The most distinctive
characteristic shared by both females and males is that the tail ends
in a dark, hairy tuft. In some lions, the tuft conceals a hard "spine"
or "spur", approximately 5 mm long, formed of the final sections
of tail bone fused together. The lion is the only cat with a tufted
tail, but the function of the tuft and spine are unknown. Absent at
birth, the tuft develops around 5 1⁄2 months of age and
is readily identifiable at the age of seven months.
Of the living, non-hybrid felids, the lion is second only to the tiger
in length and weight. Its skull is very similar to that of the tiger,
although the frontal region is usually more depressed and flattened,
with a slightly shorter postorbital region and broader nasal openings
than that of a tiger. Due to the amount of skull variation in the two
species, usually only the structure of the lower jaw can be used as a
reliable indicator of species.
The lion and tiger are the tallest cat species in shoulder height.
The size and weight of adult lions varies across global range and
140–175 cm (4 ft 7 in–5 ft 9 in)
170–298 cm (5 ft 7 in–9 ft 9 in)
70–100 cm (2 ft 4 in–3 ft 3 in)
90–105 cm (2 ft 11 in–3 ft 5 in)
120–182 kg (265–401 lb),
124.2–139.8 kg (274–308 lb) in Southern Africa,
119.5 kg (263 lb) in East Africa,
110–120 kg (240–260 lb) in India
150–250 kg (330–550 lb),
187.5–193.3 kg (413–426 lb) in Southern Africa,
174.9 kg (386 lb) in East Africa,
160–190 kg (350–420 lb) in India
Accounts of a few individuals that were larger than average exist from
Africa and India.
Pleistocene forms like the American
lion reached a maximum head-to-body length of 250 cm (8 ft
During agonistic confrontations with other lions, the mane makes the
lion appear larger
The lion's mane is the most recognisable feature of the species.
The mane starts growing when lions are about one year old. Mane colour
varies, and darkens with age. Research results indicate that
environmental factors such as average ambient temperature influence
the mane's colour and size. Mane length apparently signals fighting
success in male–male relationships. Darker-maned individuals may
have longer reproductive lives and higher offspring survival, although
they suffer in the hottest months of the year. The presence, absence,
colour, and size of the mane is associated with genetic precondition,
sexual maturity, climate, and testosterone production; the rule of
thumb is the darker and fuller the mane, the healthier the lion. In
Serengeti National Park, female lions favour males as mates with
dense, dark manes. The main purpose of the mane is thought to
protect the lion's neck and throat in territorial fights with
Scientists once thought that distinct subspecies could be justified by
morphology, including the size of the mane. Morphology was used to
identify subspecies such as the
Barbary lion and Cape lion, which had
the thickest, most extensive manes amongst wild lions. The cooler
ambient temperature in European and North American zoos may result in
a heavier mane. Thus the mane is not an appropriate marker for
identifying subspecies. Asiatic male lion usually have sparser
manes than average African lions.
In the area of Pendjari National Park, almost all West African males
are maneless or have very weak manes. Maneless male African lions
have also been reported from Senegal, from Sudan's Dinder National
Park, and from
Tsavo East National Park
Tsavo East National Park in Kenya. The original
male white lion from Timbavati was also maneless. The testosterone
hormone has been linked to mane growth; therefore, castrated lions
often have minimal to no mane, as the removal of the gonads inhibits
testosterone production. Increased testosterone may be the cause
of maned lionesses reported from northern Botswana.
Cave paintings of extinct
European cave lions
European cave lions almost exclusively show
hunting animals with no manes. Some suggest this as evidence that the
males of this species were maneless, however, since the hunting
usually involved groups of lionesses, this presumption remains
unproven. In the Chauvet cave, there is a sketchy drawing of two
maneless lions, appearing to be walking side by side. One is mostly
obscured behind the other, with the former being larger than the
latter, and shown with a scrotum.
White lions owe their colouring to a recessive allele
The white lion is a rare morph with a genetic condition called
leucism, which is caused by a double recessive allele. It is not
albino, but has normal pigmentation in eyes and skin. White lion
individuals have been occasionally encountered only in and around
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park and the adjacent Timbavati Private Game Reserve
in eastern South Africa. They were removed from the wild in the 1970s,
thus decreasing the white lion gene pool. Nevertheless, 17 births have
been recorded in five different prides between 2007 and 2015.
White lions are selected for breeding in captivity. Reportedly,
they have been bred in camps in
South Africa for use as trophies to be
killed during canned hunts.
Asiatic lion from
Iran was described by
Austen Henry Layard, which was dark brown with nearly black
Behaviour and ecology
Adult male lion stretching in Etosha National Park, Namibia
Lions spend much of their time resting, and are inactive for about
20 hours per day. Although lions can be active at any time,
their activity generally peaks after dusk with a period of
socialising, grooming, and defecating. Intermittent bursts of activity
follow through the night hours until dawn, when hunting most often
takes place. They spend an average of two hours a day walking, and
50 minutes eating.
An East African lioness (left) and two males at Masai Mara, Kenya
Tree-climbing lions of Ishasha, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
Of all wild cat species, the lion is the most social cat, living in
groups of related individuals with their offspring. Such a group is
called a pride. Male lion groups are called a coalition. Females
form the stable social unit in a pride and do not tolerate outside
females. Membership only changes with the births and deaths of
lionesses, although some females leave and become nomadic. The
average pride consists of around 15 lions, including several adult
females and up to four males and their cubs of both sexes. Large
prides, consisting of up to 30 individuals, have also been
observed. The sole exception to this pattern is the Tsavo lion
pride which always has just one adult male. Male cubs are excluded
from their maternal pride when they reach maturity at around 2–3
years of age.
Another lion behaviour is labeled nomads: lions who range widely and
move about sporadically, either singularly or in pairs. Pairs are
more frequent among related males who have been excluded from their
birth pride. A lion may switch lifestyles; nomads can become residents
and vice versa. Interactions between prides and nomads tend to be
hostile, although pride females in estrous allow nomad males to
approach them. Males spend years in a nomadic phase before gaining
residence in a pride. A study in the
Serengeti National Park
revealed that nomadic coalitions gain residency at between 3.5 and 7.3
years of age.
The area a pride occupies is called a pride area, whereas that by a
nomad is a range. The males associated with a pride tend to stay
on the fringes, patrolling their territory. Why sociality – the most
pronounced in any cat species – has developed in lionesses is the
subject of much debate. Increased hunting success appears an obvious
reason, but this is less than sure upon examination: coordinated
hunting does allow for more successful predation but also ensures that
non-hunting members reduce per capita calorific intake; however, some
take a role raising cubs, who may be left alone for extended periods
of time. Members of the pride regularly tend to play the same role in
hunts and hone their skills. The health of the hunters is the primary
need for the survival of the pride, and they are the first to consume
the prey at the site it is taken. Other benefits include possible kin
selection (better to share food with a related lion than with a
stranger), protection of the young, maintenance of territory, and
individual insurance against injury and hunger.
Both males and females defend the pride against intruders, but the
male lion is better-suited for this purpose due to its stockier, more
powerful build. Some individuals consistently lead the defence
against intruders, while others lag behind. Lions tend to assume
specific roles in the pride. Those lagging behind may provide other
valuable services to the group. An alternative hypothesis is that
there is some reward associated with being a leader who fends off
intruders, and the rank of lionesses in the pride is reflected in
these responses. The male or males associated with the pride must
defend their relationship to the pride from outside males who attempt
to take over their relationship with the pride.
Asiatic lion prides differ from African prides in group composition.
Asiatic lions are solitary or associate with up to three males
forming a loose pride. Pairs of males rest and feed together, and
display marking behaviour at the same sites. Females associate with up
to 12 females forming a stronger pride together with their cubs. They
share large carcasses among each other, but seldom with males. Female
and male lions associate only when mating. Coalitions of males
hold a territory for a longer time than single lions. Males in
coalitions of three to four individuals exhibit a pronounced hierarchy
with one male dominating the others. Dominant males mate more
frequently than their coalition partners. During a study carried out
between December 2012 and December 2016, three females were observed
switching mating partners in favour of the dominant male.
Hunting and diet
A lion's teeth are typical of a carnivore
East African lioness in a burst of speed while hunting in the
Four lionesses catching a cape buffalo in the Serengeti
The lion is a generalist hypercarnivore and usually hunts in
groups. Its prey consists mainly of mammals, particularly ungulates,
with a preference for wildebeest, zebras, buffalo, gemsbok, and
giraffes in Africa and chital, sambar deer, nilgai, wild boar,
chinkara and chousingha in India. Because of its wide prey
spectrum, the lion is considered to be an apex and keystone
predator. African lions prefer prey weighing 190–550 kg
(420–1,210 lb). They generally avoid fully grown adult
elephants, hippopotamuses and rhinoceroses, as well as very small prey
like dik-dik, hyrax, hare and vervet monkey. However, Thomson's
gazelles may be hunted and warthogs are often taken depending on
availability, despite being below the preferred weight range. In
many areas, a small number of species may make up around three-fourths
of the lion's diet. In
Serengeti National Park, wildebeest, zebras and
gazelle are the majority of prey. In Kruger National Park,
giraffes are the most common prey. In Manyara Park, Cape
buffaloes constitute as much as 62% of the lion's diet. In the
Okavango Delta, with its strong seasonal changes in prey, up to eight
species may make up three quarters of a lion's diet. Occasionally
adult hippopotamus are taken at
Gorongosa National Park
Gorongosa National Park and calves are
commonly hunted at Virunga National Park. In addition to size, the
aquatic nature of hippos makes them normally unavailable as prey.
The lions of Savuti, Botswana, have adapted to hunting young elephants
during the dry season, and a pride of 30 lions has been recorded
killing individuals between the ages of four and eleven years.
Lions also attack domestic livestock and in
India cattle contribute
significantly to their diet. Unusual prey items include
porcupines and small reptiles. Lions will kill other predators such as
leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas, but they seldom devour them.
Young lions first display stalking behaviour around three months of
age, although they do not participate in hunting until they are almost
a year old. They begin to hunt effectively when nearing the age of
two. Single lions are capable of bringing down prey like zebra
and wildebeest, which can be twice their own weight, while hunting
larger prey like giraffes and buffalo alone is too much of a risk.
Cooperative-hunting lions are usually successful. In prides,
lionesses do most of the hunting. In typical hunts, each lioness
has a favoured position in the group, either stalking prey on the
"wing" then attacking, or moving a smaller distance in the centre of
the group and capturing prey in flight from other lionesses. Males
attached to prides do not usually participate in group hunting.
However, some evidence suggests that pride males are just as
successful as females; they are solo hunters who ambush prey in small
bush. Lions are not particularly known for their stamina – for
instance, a lioness' heart makes up only 0.57% of her body weight (a
male's is about 0.45% of his body weight), whereas a hyena's heart is
close to 1% of its body weight. Thus, they only run fast in short
bursts, and need to be close to their prey before starting the
attack. They take advantage of factors that reduce visibility; many
kills take place near some form of cover or at night. In
addition, since lions are such ambush hunters, humans farming in the
vicinity have recently found that lions are easily discouraged if they
think their prey has spotted them. To protect their cattle from such
attacks with that knowledge in mind, farmers have found that all that
they have to do is simply paint eyes on the hindquarters of each cow,
which is usually enough for hunting lions to think they are spotted
and move to easier prey.
The attack is short and powerful; they attempt to catch the victim
with a fast rush and final leap. The prey usually is killed by
strangulation, which can cause cerebral ischemia or asphyxia
(which results in hypoxemic, or "general", hypoxia). The prey also may
be killed by the lion enclosing the animal's mouth and nostrils in its
jaws (which would also result in asphyxia). Prey is typically
eaten at the location of the hunt, although large prey is sometimes
dragged into cover. Lions tend to squabble over a kill,
particularly the males. When food is scarce, cubs tend to suffer the
most but otherwise all pride members can eat their fill, including old
and crippled ones which can live on leftovers. There is more
sharing of larger kills. An adult lioness requires an average of
about 5 kg (11 lb) of meat per day, a male about 7 kg
(15 lb). A lion may gorge itself and eat up to 30 kg
(66 lb) in one sitting; if it is unable to consume all the
kill it will rest for a few hours before consuming more. On a hot day,
the pride may retreat to shade leaving a male or two to stand
guard. Lions will defend their kills from scavengers like
vultures and hyenas.
Lions scavenge on carrion when the opportunity arises. They scavenge
animals either dead from natural causes like diseases, or were killed
by other predators, and keep a constant lookout for circling vultures,
being keenly aware that they indicate an animal dead or in
distress. In fact, most carrion on which both hyenas and lions
feed upon are killed by the hyenas instead of the lions. Carrion
is thought to provide a large part of lion diet.
Lion attacked by spotted hyenas in Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South
African lions and spotted hyenas occupy a similar ecological niche and
compete for prey and carrion in the areas where they coexist. A review
of data across several studies indicates a dietary overlap of
58.6%. Lions typically ignore spotted hyenas unless the lions are
on a kill or are being harassed by the hyenas, while the latter tend
to visibly react to the presence of lions whether there is food or
not. Lions seize the kills of spotted hyenas: in the Ngorongoro
crater, it is common for lions to subsist largely on kills stolen from
hyenas, causing the hyenas to increase their kill rate. In
Botswana's Chobe National Park, the situation is reversed: hyenas
frequently challenge lions and steal their kills: they obtain food
from 63% of all lion kills. When confronted on a kill by lions,
spotted hyenas may either leave or wait patiently at a distance of
30–100 m (98–328 ft) until the lions have finished,
but they are also bold enough to feed alongside lions, and even force
the lions off a kill. The two species may attack one another even when
there is no food involved for no apparent reason. Lion
predation can account for up to 71% of hyena deaths in Etosha National
Park. Spotted hyenas have adapted by frequently mobbing lions that
enter their territories. Where the lion population declined in
Masai Mara National Reserve, the spotted hyena population
increased rapidly. Experiments on captive spotted hyenas revealed
that specimens with no prior experience with lions act indifferently
to the sight of them, but will react fearfully to the scent. The
size of male lions allows them occasionally to confront hyenas in
otherwise evenly matched brawls and so to tip the balance in favour of
Lioness stealing a kill from an
African leopard in Kruger National
Park, South Africa
Lions tend to dominate smaller felids such as African cheetahs and
leopards where they co-occur, stealing their kills and killing their
cubs and even adults when given the chance. The cheetah in
particular has a 50% chance of losing its kill to lions or other
predators. Lions are major killers of cheetah cubs, accounting
for up to 78.2% of predator-killed juveniles in one study.
Cheetahs avoid their competitors using different temporal (time) and
spatial (habitat) niches.
Leopards are able to take refuge in
trees; however, lionesses will occasionally be successful in climbing
to retrieve leopard kills. Similarly, lions dominate African wild
dogs, not only taking their kills but also preying on young and
(rarely) adult dogs. Population densities of wild dogs are low in
areas where lions are more abundant. However, there are a few
reported cases of old and wounded lions falling prey to wild
dogs. African lions may also conflict with Nile crocodiles.
Depending on the size of the crocodile and the lion, either can lose
kills or carrion to the other. Lions have been known to kill
crocodiles venturing onto land, while the reverse is true for
lions entering waterways, as evidenced by the occasional lion claw
found in crocodile stomachs.
As for the
Asiatic lion in India, sympatric predators currently
include the Indian leopard, mugger crocodile, Golden
jackal and striped hyena.
Main article: Man-eater
While lions do not usually hunt people, some (usually males) seem to
seek out human prey; one well-publicised case includes the Tsavo
maneaters, where 28 officially recorded railway workers building the
Uganda Railway were taken by lions over nine months during the
construction of a bridge over the
Tsavo River in
Kenya in 1898.
The hunter who killed the lions wrote a book detailing the animals'
predatory behaviour. The lions were larger than normal, lacked manes,
and one seemed to suffer from tooth decay. The infirmity theory,
including tooth decay, is not favoured by all researchers; an analysis
of teeth and jaws of man-eating lions in museum collections suggests
that while tooth decay may explain some incidents, prey depletion in
human-dominated areas is a more likely cause of lion predation on
In their analysis of Tsavo and general man-eating, Kerbis Peterhans
and Gnoske acknowledge that sick or injured animals may be more prone
to man-eating, but that the behaviour is "not unusual, nor necessarily
'aberrant'" where the opportunity exists; if inducements such as
access to livestock or human corpses are present, lions will regularly
prey upon human beings. The authors note that the relationship is
well-attested among other pantherines and primates in the
The lion's proclivity for man-eating has been systematically examined.
American and Tanzanian scientists report that man-eating behaviour in
rural areas of Tanzania increased greatly from 1990 to 2005. At least
563 villagers were attacked and many eaten over this period – a
number far exceeding the more famed "Tsavo" incidents of a century
earlier. The incidents occurred near Selous National Park in Rufiji
District and in Lindi Province near the Mozambican border. While the
expansion of villagers into bush country is one concern, the authors
argue that conservation policy must mitigate the danger because, in
this case, conservation contributes directly to human deaths. Cases in
Lindi have been documented where lions seize humans from the center of
substantial villages. Another study of 1,000 people attacked by
lions in southern Tanzania between 1988 and 2009 found that the weeks
following the full moon (when there was less moonlight) were a strong
indicator of increased night attacks on people.
Tsavo Man-Eaters on display in the Field Museum of Natural History
in Chicago, Illinois, the United States of America
Author Robert R. Frump wrote in The Man-eaters of Eden that Mozambican
refugees regularly crossing
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park at night in South
Africa are attacked and eaten by the lions; park officials have
conceded that man-eating is a problem there. Frump believes thousands
may have been killed in the decades after apartheid sealed the park
and forced the refugees to cross the park at night. For nearly a
century before the border was sealed, Mozambicans had regularly walked
across the park in daytime with little harm.
Packer estimates more than 200 Tanzanians are killed each year by
lions, crocodiles, elephants, hippos, and snakes, and that the numbers
could be double that amount, with lions thought to kill at least 70 of
those. Packer has documented that between 1990 and 2004, lions
attacked 815 people in Tanzania, killing 563. Packer and Ikanda are
among the few conservationists who believe western conservation
efforts must take account of these matters not just because of ethical
concerns about human life, but also for the long term success of
conservation efforts and lion preservation.
A man-eating lion was killed by game scouts in Southern Tanzania in
April 2004. It is believed to have killed and eaten at least
35 people in a series of incidents covering several villages in
the Rufiji Delta coastal region. Dr Rolf D. Baldus, the GTZ
wildlife programme coordinator, commented that it was likely that the
lion preyed on humans because it had a large abscess underneath a
molar that was cracked in several places. He further commented that
"This lion probably experienced a lot of pain, particularly when it
GTZ is the German development cooperation agency
and has been working with the Tanzanian government on wildlife
conservation for nearly two decades. As in other cases this lion was
large, lacked a mane, and had a tooth problem.
The "All-Africa" record of man-eating generally is considered to be
not Tsavo, but incidents in the early 1930s through the late 1940s in
what was then
Tanganyika (now Tanzania), inflicted by a pride of lions
commonly referred to as the "
Njombe lions". George Rushby, game warden
and professional hunter, eventually dispatched the pride, which over
three generations is thought to have killed and eaten 1,500 to 2,000
people in what is now
Asiatic lions may become man-eaters. The sanctuary's
area is now insufficient to sustain their number, and
consequently, lions have moved outside, making them a potential threat
to people not only within the park, but also in surrounding places.
Two attacks on humans were reported in 2012, including in area about
50–60 km (31–37 mi) from the sanctuary.
Reproduction and life cycle
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Lions mating at Masai Mara
Most lionesses will have reproduced by the time they are four years of
age. Lions do not mate at any specific time of year, and the
females are polyestrous. As with other cats' penises, the male
lion's penis has spines that point backward. During withdrawal of the
penis, the spines rake the walls of the female's vagina, which may
cause ovulation. A lioness may mate with more than one male when
she is in heat.
The average gestation period is around 110 days, the female
giving birth to a litter of one to four cubs in a secluded den (which
may be a thicket, a reed-bed, a cave, or some other sheltered area)
usually away from the rest of the pride. She will often hunt by
herself while the cubs are still helpless, staying relatively close to
the thicket or den where the cubs are kept. The cubs themselves
are born blind – their eyes do not open until roughly a week after
birth. They weigh 1.2–2.1 kg (2.6–4.6 lb) at birth and
are almost helpless, beginning to crawl a day or two after birth and
walking around three weeks of age. The lioness moves her cubs to
a new den site several times a month, carrying them one by one by the
nape of the neck, to prevent scent from building up at a single den
site and thus avoiding the attention of predators that may harm the
Usually, the mother does not integrate herself and her cubs back into
the pride until the cubs are six to eight weeks old. Sometimes
this introduction to pride life occurs earlier, however, particularly
if other lionesses have given birth at about the same time. For
instance, lionesses in a pride often synchronise their reproductive
cycles and there is communal raising and suckling of the young (once
the cubs are past the initial stage of isolation with their mother),
who suckle indiscriminately from any or all of the nursing females in
the pride. The synchronization of births also has an advantage in that
the cubs end up being roughly the same size, and thus have an equal
chance of survival, and older cubs do not dominate the
When first introduced to the rest of the pride, the cubs initially
lack confidence when confronted with adult lions other than their
mother. They soon begin to immerse themselves in the pride life,
however, playing among themselves or attempting to initiate play with
the adults. Lionesses with cubs of their own are more likely to
be tolerant of another lioness's cubs than lionesses without cubs. The
tolerance of the male lions toward the cubs varies – sometimes, a
male will patiently let the cubs play with his tail or his mane,
whereas another may snarl and bat the cubs away.
Namibian lioness with cub. Mothers do most of the parental care.
Weaning occurs after six to seven months. Male lions reach maturity at
about 3 years of age and, at 4–5 years of age, are capable of
challenging and displacing the adult male(s) associated with another
pride. They begin to age and weaken between 10 and 15 years of age at
the latest, Furthermore, when one or more new males oust the
previous male(s) associated with a pride, the conqueror(s) often kill
any existing young cubs, perhaps because females do not become fertile
and receptive until their cubs mature or die. A lioness often will
attempt to defend her cubs fiercely from a usurping male, but such
actions are rarely successful. Success is more likely when a group of
three or four mothers within a pride join forces against one
male. Other sources of mortality for cubs include starvation and
abandonment, as well as predation by leopards, hyenas and wild
dogs. All in all, as many as 80% of the cubs will die before
the age of two.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not only males that are ousted from
their pride to become nomads, although most females certainly do
remain with their birth pride. However, when the pride becomes too
large, the next generation of female cubs may be forced to leave to
eke out their own territory. Furthermore, when a new male lion takes
over the pride, adolescent lions, both male and female, may be
Both males and females may interact homosexually. Lions are shown to
be involved in group homosexual and courtship activities. Male lions
will also head rub and roll around with each other before simulating
Captive Kruger lion showing advanced signs of bovine tuberculosis
Although adult lions have no natural predators, evidence suggests that
the majority die violently from humans or other lions. Lions
often inflict serious injuries on each other, either members of
different prides encountering each other in territorial disputes, or
members of the same pride fighting at a kill. Crippled lions and
lion cubs may fall victim to hyenas, leopards, or be trampled by
buffalo or elephants, and careless lions may be maimed when hunting
East African lions seeking refuge from flies by climbing a tree near
Various species of tick commonly infest the ears, neck and groin
regions of most lions. Adult forms of several species of the
tapeworm genus Taenia have been isolated from intestines, the lions
having ingested larval forms from antelope meat. Lions in the
Ngorongoro Crater were afflicted by an outbreak of stable fly
(Stomoxys calcitrans) in 1962; this resulted in lions becoming covered
in bloody bare patches and emaciated. Lions sought unsuccessfully to
evade the biting flies by climbing trees or crawling into hyena
burrows; many perished or emigrated as the population dropped from 70
to 15 individuals. A more recent outbreak in 2001 killed six
lions. Lions, especially in captivity, are vulnerable to the
canine distemper virus (CDV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and
feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). CDV is spread through
domestic dogs and other carnivores; a 1994 outbreak in Serengeti
National Park resulted in many lions developing neurological symptoms
such as seizures. During the outbreak, several lions died from
pneumonia and encephalitis. FIV, which is similar to HIV while
not known to adversely affect lions, is worrisome enough in its effect
in domestic cats that the
Species Survival Plan recommends systematic
testing in captive lions. It occurs with high to endemic frequency in
several wild lion populations, but is mostly absent from Asiatic and
Head rubbing and licking are common social behaviours within a pride
When resting, lion socialisation occurs through a number of
behaviours, and the animal's expressive movements are highly
developed. The most common peaceful tactile gestures are head rubbing
and social licking, which have been compared with grooming in
primates. Head rubbing – nuzzling one's forehead, face and neck
against another lion – appears to be a form of greeting, as it
is seen often after an animal has been apart from others, or after a
fight or confrontation. Males tend to rub other males, while cubs and
females rub females.
Social licking often occurs in tandem with
head rubbing; it is generally mutual and the recipient appears to
express pleasure. The head and neck are the most common parts of the
body licked, which may have arisen out of utility, as a lion cannot
lick these areas individually.
A lion in captivity roaring
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Lions have an array of facial expressions and body postures that serve
as visual gestures. A common facial expression is the "grimace
face" or flehmen response, which a lion makes when sniffing chemical
signals and involves an open mouth with bared teeth, raised muzzle,
wrinkled nose closed eyes and relaxed ears. Lions also use
chemical and visual marking; male lions will spray and scrape both
plots of ground and objects within their territory.
Their repertoire of vocalisations is also large; variations in
intensity and pitch, rather than discrete signals, appear central to
communication. Most lion vocals are variations of growling/snarling,
miaowing and roaring. Other sounds produced include purring, puffing,
bleating and humming. Lions tend to roar in a very characteristic
manner, starting with a few deep, long roars that trail off into a
series of shorter ones. They most often roar at night; the
sound, which can be heard from a distance of 8 kilometres
(5.0 mi), is used to advertise the animal's presence. Lions
have the loudest roar of any big cat.
Distribution and habitat
The maximal range of lion species in the past: red indicates Panthera
spelaea, blue P. atrox, and green P. leo
The lion prefers grassy plains and savannahs, open woodlands with
bushes and scrub bordering rivers. It is absent in rainforest and
rarely enters closed forest. On Mount Elgon, it has been recorded up
to an elevation of 3,600 m (11,800 ft) and close to the snow
line on Mount Kenya.
Lion range in
Africa originally spanned most of the central
rainforest-zone and the
Sahara desert. Lions occur in savanna
grasslands with scattered
Acacia trees, which serve as shade. The
species became extinct in North
Africa in the 1960s.
Two male, captive
Asiatic lions in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai
In Eurasia, the lion once ranged from
Greece to India. Herodotus
reported that lions had been common in
Greece in 480 BC; they attacked
the baggage camels of the Persian king Xerxes on his march through the
Aristotle considered them rare by 300 BC. By 100 CE, they
were extirpated. A population of
Asiatic lion survived until
the10th century in the Caucasus, their last European outpost. The
species was eradicated in Palestine by the Middle Ages, and from most
of the rest of Asia after the arrival of readily available firearms in
the 18th century. Between the late 19th and late 20th centuries, they
became extinct in Southwest Asia. By the late 19th century, the lion
had been extirpated in most of northern
India and Turkey. The
last live lion in
Iran was sighted in 1942, about 65 km
(40 mi) northwest of Dezful. The corpse of a lioness was
found on the banks of the
Khūzestān Province in 1944.
There are no subsequent reliable reports from Iran.
Asiatic lion now survives only in and around Gir
Park in Gujarat, western India. Its habitat is a mixture of dry
savanna forest and very dry deciduous scrub forest.
Population and conservation status
Black maned male lion, shot in the Sotik Plains,
Kenya (May 1909)
Conservation of both African and Asian lions has required the setup
and maintenance of national parks and game reserves; among the best
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park in Namibia,
Serengeti National Park in
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park in South Africa, and Gir National Park
Most lions now live in East and Southern Africa, and their numbers are
rapidly decreasing, with an estimated 30–50% decline per 20 years in
the late half of the 20th century. Therefore, the species is listed as
Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. In 1975, it was estimated that
since the 1950s, lion numbers decreased by half to 200,000 and perhaps
even less. Estimates of the African lion population range between
16,500 and 47,000 living in the wild in 2002–2004. Primary
causes of the decline include disease and human interference. Habitat
loss and conflicts with humans are considered the most significant
threats to the species.
Ewaso Lions Project protects lions in the Samburu National
Buffalo Springs National Reserve
Buffalo Springs National Reserve and Shaba National Reserve
Ewaso Ng'iro ecosystem in Northern Kenya. Outside these
areas, the issues arising from lions' interaction with livestock and
people usually results in the elimination of the lions.
Kafue National Park
Kafue National Park is a key refuge for lions, where
frequent, uncontrolled bushfires combined with hunting of lions and
prey species limits the ability of the lion population to recover.
When favourable habitat is inundated in the wet season, lions expand
home ranges and travel greater distances, and cub mortality is
In 2015, a population of lions that was previously thought extirpated
was filmed in the Alatash National Park, Ethiopia, close to the
Sudanese border. This population may possibly number up to 200
West African lion
West African lion population is isolated from the one in Central
Africa, with little or no exchange of breeding individuals. In 2015,
it was estimated that this population consists of about 400 animals,
including less than 250 mature individuals. They persist in only three
protected areas in the region, with a majority in one population in
the tri-national WAP protected area complex. This population listed as
Critically Endangered. Field surveys in the WAP ecosystem revealed
that lion occupancy is lowest in the
W National Park
W National Park and higher in
areas with permanent staff and thus better protection. A
population occurs in Cameroon's Waza National Park, where
approximately 14–21 animals persisted as of 2009. There is
disagreement over the size of the largest individual population in
West Africa: the estimates range from 100 to 400 lions in Burkina
Arly-Singou ecosystem. In 2015, an adult male lion and a
female lion were sighted in Ghana's Mole National Park. These were the
first sightings of lions in the country in 39 years.
In Gabon's Batéké Plateau National Park, a single male lion was
repeatedly recorded by camera-traps between January 2015 and September
2017. Five hair samples of this lion were collected and compared with
samples from museum specimens that had been shot in the area in 1959.
Genetic analysis revealed that the Batéké lion is closely related to
lions killed in this region in the past. The samples grouped with lion
Namibia and Botswana. Thus it is possible that the
Batéké lion either dispersed from a Southern African lion
population, or is a survivor of the ancestral Batéké lion population
that was considered to be extinct since the late 1990s.
Asiatic lion population is geographically isolated, which can lead
to inbreeding, and consequently, reduced genetic diversity. It is
listed as Endangered. In contrast to lion populations in Africa,
the one in
India has risen over the years. In India, the
last refuge of the
Asiatic lion is the 1,412 km2
(545 sq mi) Gir
Forest National Park, and surrounding areas,
which had approximately 180 lions in 1974 and about 400 in
2010. As in Africa, numerous human habitations are close by with
the resultant problems between lions, livestock, locals and wildlife
officials. The establishment of a second independent Asiatic lion
population was planned at the
Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary
Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in the Indian
state of Madhya Pradesh. But now, the Asiatic
Project seems unlikely to be implemented.
Lion Census conducted in 2017 revealed about 650 wild
Lion cubs at Clifton Zoological Gardens, England, 1854
Following the discovery of the decline of lion population in Africa,
several coordinated efforts involving lion conservation have been
organised in an attempt to stem this decline. Lions are one species
included in the
Species Survival Plan, a coordinated attempt by the
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Association of Zoos and Aquariums to increase its chances of survival.
The plan was originally started in 1982 for the Asiatic lion, but was
suspended when it was found that most
Asiatic lions in North American
zoos were not genetically pure, having been hybridised with African
lions. The African lion plan started in 1993, focusing especially on
the South African subspecies, although there are difficulties in
assessing the genetic diversity of captive lions, since most
individuals are of unknown origin, making maintenance of genetic
diversity a problem.
Lions are part of a group of exotic animals that are the core of zoo
exhibits since the late eighteenth century; members of this group are
invariably large vertebrates and include elephants, rhinoceroses,
hippopotamuses, large primates, and other big cats; zoos sought to
gather as many of these species as possible. Although many modern
zoos are more selective about their exhibits, there are more than
1,000 African and 100
Asiatic lions in zoos and wildlife parks around
the world. They are considered an ambassador species and are kept for
tourism, education and conservation purposes. Lions can reach an
age of over 20 years in captivity; Apollo, a resident lion of Honolulu
Zoo in Honolulu, Hawaii, died at age 22 in August 2007. His two
sisters, born in 1986, were still alive in August 2007. Breeding
programs need to note origins to avoid breeding different subspecies
and thus reducing conservation value. However, several
Asiatic-African lion crosses have been bred.
The former popularity of the
Barbary lion as a zoo animal has meant
that captive lions likely descended from
Barbary lion stock. This
includes lions at Port Lympne Wild
Animal Park in Kent, England that
are descended from animals owned by the King of Morocco. Another
eleven animals thought to be Barbary lions are kept in Addis Ababa
zoo, and are descendants of animals owned by Emperor Haile Selassie.
WildLink International, in collaboration with
launched their ambitious International Barbary
Lion Project with the
aim of identifying and breeding Barbary lions in captivity for
eventual reintroduction into a national park in the
Atlas Mountains of
At the ancient Egyptian cities of
Per-Bast were temples
dedicated to the lion goddesses of Egypt,
Sekhmet and Bast, and at
Taremu there was a temple dedicated to the son of the deity, Maahes
the lion prince, where live lions were kept and allowed to roam within
the temple. The Greeks called the city
Leontopolis the "City of Lions"
and documented that practice. Lions were kept and bred by Assyrian
kings as early as 850 BC, and
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great was said to
have been presented with tame lions by the
Malhi of northern
Ancient Rome, lions were kept by emperors to take part
in the gladiator arenas or for executions (see bestiarii, damnatio ad
bestias, and venatio). Roman notables, including Sulla, Pompey, and
Julius Caesar, often ordered the mass slaughter of hundreds of lions
at a time. In India, lions were tamed by Indian princes. Marco
Polo reported that
Kublai Khan kept lions.
The first European "zoos" spread among noble and royal families in the
13th century, and until the 17th century were called seraglios; at
that time, they came to be called menageries, an extension of the
cabinet of curiosities. They spread from
France and Italy during the
Renaissance to the rest of Europe. In England, although the
seraglio tradition was less developed, lions were kept at the Tower of
London in a seraglio established by King John in the 13th
century, probably stocked with animals from an earlier
menagerie started in 1125 by Henry I at his hunting lodge in
Woodstock, near Oxford, where lions had been stocked according to
William of Malmesbury.
Seraglios served as expressions of the nobility's power and wealth.
Animals such as big cats and elephants, in particular, symbolised
power, and were pitted in fights against each other or domesticated
animals. By extension, menageries and seraglios served as
demonstrations of the dominance of humanity over nature. Consequently,
the defeat of such natural "lords" by a cow in 1682 astonished the
spectators, and the flight of an elephant before a rhinoceros drew
jeers. Such fights would slowly fade out in the 17th century with the
spread of the menagerie and their appropriation by the commoners. The
tradition of keeping big cats as pets lasted into the 19th century, at
which time it was seen as highly eccentric.
Albrecht Dürer, lions sketch. (c. 1520)
The presence of lions at the Tower of London was intermittent, being
restocked when a monarch or his consort, such as
Margaret of Anjou
Margaret of Anjou the
wife of Henry VI, either sought or were given animals. Records
indicate they were kept in poor conditions there in the 17th century,
in contrast to more open conditions in
Florence at the time. The
menagerie was open to the public by the 18th century; admission was a
sum of three half-pence or the supply of a cat or dog for feeding to
the lions. A rival menagerie at the
Exeter Exchange also
exhibited lions until the early 19th century. The Tower menagerie
was closed by William IV, and animals transferred to the London
Zoo, which opened its gates to the public on 27 April 1828.
The wild animals trade flourished alongside improved colonial trade of
the 19th century. Lions were considered fairly common and inexpensive.
Although they would barter higher than tigers, they were less costly
than larger, or more difficult to transport animals such as the
giraffe and hippopotamus, and much less than giant pandas. Like
other animals, lions were seen as little more than a natural,
boundless commodity that was mercilessly exploited with terrible
losses in capture and transportation. The widely reproduced
imagery of the heroic hunter chasing lions would dominate a large part
of the century. Explorers and hunters exploited a popular
Manichean division of animals into "good" and "evil" to add thrilling
value to their adventures, casting themselves as heroic figures. This
resulted in big cats always suspected of being man-eaters,
representing "both the fear of nature and the satisfaction of having
Lion at Melbourne
Zoo enjoying an elevated grassy area with some tree
Lions were kept in cramped and squalid conditions at London
a larger lion house with roomier cages was built in the 1870s.
Further changes took place in the early 20th century, when Carl
Hagenbeck designed enclosures more closely resembling a natural
habitat, with concrete 'rocks', more open space and a moat instead of
bars. He designed lion enclosures for both Melbourne
Zoo and Sydney's
Taronga Zoo, among others, in the early 20th century. Though his
designs were popular, the old bars and cage enclosures prevailed until
the 1960s in many zoos. In the later decades of the 20th century,
larger, more natural enclosures and the use of wire mesh or laminated
glass instead of lowered dens allowed visitors to come closer than
ever to the animals, with some attractions even placing the den on
ground higher than visitors, such as the
Lion Overlook of
Oklahoma City Zoological Park.
Nineteenth-century etching of a lion tamer in a cage of lions and
Lion-baiting is a blood sport involving the baiting of lions in combat
with other animals, usually dogs. Records of it exist in ancient times
through until the seventeenth century. It was finally banned in Vienna
by 1800 and England in 1835.
Lion taming refers to the practice of taming lions for entertainment,
either as part of an established circus or as an individual act, such
as Siegfried & Roy. The term is also often used for the taming and
display of other big cats such as tigers, leopards, and cougars. The
practice was pioneered in the first half of the nineteenth century by
Frenchman Henri Martin and American Isaac Van Amburgh who both toured
widely, and whose techniques were copied by a number of
followers. Van Amburgh performed before
Queen Victoria in 1838
when he toured Great Britain. Martin composed a pantomime titled Les
Lions de Mysore ("the lions of Mysore"), an idea that Amburgh quickly
borrowed. These acts eclipsed equestrianism acts as the central
display of circus shows, but truly entered public consciousness in the
early twentieth century with cinema. In demonstrating the superiority
of human over animal, lion taming served a purpose similar to animal
fights of previous centuries. The ultimate proof of a tamer's
dominance and control over a lion is demonstrated by placing his head
in the lion's mouth. The now iconic lion tamer's chair was possibly
first used by American
Clyde Beatty (1903–1965).
Further information: Cultural depictions of lions
Upper Paleolithic cave painting depicting lions, found in the Chauvet
Georgian lion from Colchis
The lion is one of the most widely recognised animal symbols in human
culture. It has been extensively depicted in sculptures and paintings,
on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature. Lions
have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire, and
have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoos over the world
since the late 18th century. It is featured in several of Aesop's
fables written in the sixth century BC. It appeared as a symbol
for strength and nobility in cultures across Europe, Asia, and Africa,
despite incidents of attacks on people. It has been depicted as "king
of the jungle" or "king of beasts"; hence, a popular symbol for
royalty and stateliness. Depictions of lions are known from the
Upper Paleolithic period. Carvings and paintings were discovered in
Lascaux and Chauvet Caves in
France and dated to 15,000 to 17,000
years old. Apart from depicting lions, also cave bears and
other species considered dangerous seem to have come into fashion at
the beginning of the Magdalenian. A lioness-headed ivory carving
from Vogelherd cave in the
Swabian Alb in southwestern Germany is
dubbed Löwenmensch (lion-human) in German. The sculpture has been
determined to be at least 32,000 years old and from the
Aurignacian culture. But it may date to as early as 40,000 years
ago. The sculpture has been interpreted as anthropomorphic,
giving human characteristics to an animal, however, it also may
represent a deity.
In Africa, cultural views of the lion have varied by region. In some
cultures, the lion symbolises power and royalty and some powerful
rulers had the word "lion" in their nickname. For example, Marijata of
Mali Empire (c. 1235 – c. 1600) was given the name "
Mali". Njaay, the legendary founder of the
(1287–1855), is said to have been raised by lions and returned to
his people part-lion to unite them using the knowledge he learned from
the beasts. In parts of West Africa, to be compared to a lion was
considered to be one of the greatest compliments. The social
hierarchies of their societies where connected to the animal kingdom
and the lion represented the top class. However, in more forested
areas where lions were rare, the more numerous leopard represented the
top of the hierarchy. In parts of West and East Africa, the lion
is associated with healing and is seen as the link between the seers
and the supernatural. In other East African traditions, the lion is
the symbol of laziness. In many folktales, lions are portrayed as
having low intelligence and are easily tricked by other animals.
Although lions were commonly used in stories, proverbs and dances,
they rarely featured in visual arts.
Sekhmet from the temple of Mut at Luxor, granite,
1403–1365 B.C., in the National Museum, Copenhagen
A lion depicted on a decorative panel from Darius I the Great's palace
of the Persian Empire (550–330 BC)
The ancient Egyptians portrayed several of their war deities as
lionesses, whom they revered as fierce hunters. Egyptian
deities associated with lions include: Bast, Mafdet, Menhit, Pakhet,
Sekhmet, Tefnut, and the Sphinx. In Egypt, the avenging goddess
Sekhmet, represented as a lioness, symbolized the ferocious heat of
the sun. The lion was also believed to act as a guide to the
underworld, through which the sun was believed to pass each night. The
presence of lion -footed tombs found in
Egypt and images of mummies
carried on the backs of lions suggests this close association of the
lions with the underworld.
The lion was a prominent symbol in ancient
to Assyrian and Babylonian times), where it was strongly associated
with kingship. Lions were among the major symbols of the goddess
Lion of Babylon
Lion of Babylon was the foremost symbol
of the Babylonian Empire. The
Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal
Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal is a
famous sequence of
Assyrian palace reliefs
Assyrian palace reliefs from c. 640 BC, now in the
British Museum. In Meopotamia, the lion was linked with both the
Ishtar and the supreme Mesopotamian god Marduk. The
theme of the royal lion hunt, a common motif in the early iconography
in West Asia, symbolized death and resurrection, as the continuation
of life was ensured by killing a god like animal. In some stone
reliefs depicting the Royal hunt of lions, the divinity and the
courage of the lion is equated with the divinity and courage of the
Nemean lion was symbolic in ancient
Greece and Rome, represented
as the constellation and zodiac sign Leo, and described in mythology,
where its skin was borne by the hero Heracles. Myths which have a
hero killing a lion,such as the one in which Herakles slays the Nemean
lion, symbolize victory over death. Similarly the wearing of lion skin
such as the lion skin worn by Herackles also symbolizes victory over
A lion carving in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu,
Daniel in the lions' den
Daniel in the lions' den is an account in Daniel 6 in the Bible
The lion is the biblical emblem of the tribe of Judah and the later
Kingdom of Judah. Lions are frequently mentioned in the Bible,
notably in the Book of Daniel, in which the eponymous hero refuses to
worship King Darius and is forced to sleep in the lions' den where he
is miraculously unharmed (Dan 6). In the Book of Judges,
a lion as he travels to visit a Philistine woman.(Judg 14). The power
and ferocity of the lion is invoked when describing both the anger of
God (Amos 3:4–8, Lam 3:10) and the menace of Israel's enemies (Pss
17:12, Jer 2:30) and Satan (1 Pet 5:8). The book of Isaiah uses the
imagery of a lion laying with a calf and child and eating straw to
portray the harmony of creation (Isa 11:6–7). In the Book of
Revelation, a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle are on a heavenly
throne in John's vision (Rev 4:7). The early
Christian Church used
this image to symbolise the four gospels, the lion symbolising the
Gospel of Mark.
Puranic texts of Hinduism,
Narasimha ("man-lion") a half-lion,
half-man incarnation or (avatar) of Vishnu, is worshipped by his
devotees and saved the child devotee
Prahlada from his father, the
evil demon king Hiranyakashipu;
Vishnu takes the form of
half-man/half-lion, in Narasimha, having a human torso and lower body,
but with a lion-like face and claws.
Singh is an ancient Indian
vedic name meaning "lion" (Asiatic lion), dating back over 2000 years
to ancient India. It was originally only used by
Rajputs a Hindu
Kshatriya or military caste in India. After the birth of the Khalsa
brotherhood in 1699, the
Sikhs also adopted the name "Singh" due to
the wishes of Guru Gobind Singh. Along with millions of
today, it is also used by over 20 million
Sikhs worldwide. Found
famously on numerous flags and coats of arms all across Asia and
Asiatic lions also stand firm on the National Emblem of
India. Farther south in South Asia, the
Asiatic lion is symbolic
for the Sinhalese, Sri Lanka's ethnic majority; the term derived
from the Indo-Aryan Sinhala, meaning the "lion people" or "people with
lion blood", while a sword-wielding lion is the central figure on the
national flag of Sri Lanka.
Chinese guardian lion
Chinese guardian lion outside Yonghe Temple, Beijing
Detail of the
Nishi Hongan-ji in Kyoto; Momoyama period;
Asiatic lion is a common motif in Chinese art. They were first
used in art during the late
Spring and Autumn period
Spring and Autumn period (fifth or sixth
century BC), and became much more popular during the
Han Dynasty (206
BC – AD 220), when imperial guardian lions started to be placed in
front of imperial palaces for protection. Because lions have never
been native to China, early depictions were somewhat unrealistic;
after the introduction of
Buddhist art to China in the Tang Dynasty
(after the sixth century AD), lions usually were wingless, with
shorter, thicker bodies, and curly manes. The lion dance is a
form of traditional dance in
Chinese culture in which performers mimic
a lion's movements in a lion costume, often with musical accompaniment
from cymbals, drums, and gongs. They are performed at Chinese New
Year, the August Moon Festival and other celebratory occasions for
The island nation of Singapore derives its name from the Malay words
singa (lion) and pora (city/fortress), which in turn is from the
Sanskrit சிங்க singa सिंह siṃha and
पुर புர pura, which is cognate to the Greek πόλις,
pólis. According to the Malay Annals, this name was given by a
fourteenth-century Sumatran Malay prince Sang Nila Utama, who, on
alighting the island after a thunderstorm, spotted an auspicious beast
on shore that appeared to be a lion.
Depiction of Goddess Durga, her mount is a lion
Lion in Museum
"Lion" was the nickname of several medieval warrior rulers with a
reputation for bravery, such as the English King Richard the
Lionheart, Henry the Lion, (German: Heinrich der Löwe), Duke of
Saxony, William the Lion, King of Scotland, and Robert III of Flanders
Lion of Flanders"—a major Flemish national icon up to
the present. Lions are frequently depicted on coats of arms, either as
a device on shields themselves, or as supporters, but the lioness is
much more infrequent. The formal language of heraldry, called
blazon, employs French terms to describe the images precisely. Such
descriptions specified whether lions or other creatures were "rampant"
or "passant", that is whether they were rearing or crouching.
The lion is used as a symbol of sporting teams, from national
association football teams such as England, Scotland and Singapore to
famous clubs such as the Detroit Lions of the NFL, Chelsea
and Aston Villa of the English Premier League, (and the
Eintracht Braunschweig of the Bundesliga, and to
a host of smaller clubs around the world.
Lions continue to be featured in modern literature, from the messianic
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and following books from
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia series written by C. S. Lewis, to the
Cowardly Lion in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The advent
of moving pictures saw the continued presence of lion symbolism; one
of the most iconic and widely recognised lions is Leo the Lion, which
has been the mascot for
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studios since the
1920s. The 1960s saw the appearance of what is possibly the most
famous lioness, the Kenyan animal Elsa in the movie Born Free,
based on the true-life book of the same title. The lion's role as
king of the beasts has been used in cartoons, such as the 1994 Disney
animated feature film The
Lion lights (lights used to repel lions)
Physical comparison of tigers and lions
Tiger versus lion
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Zoo in the Nineteenth
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Denis-Hoot, Christine; Denis-Hoot, Michel (2002). The Art of Being a
Lion. Freidman/Fairfax. ISBN 1-58663-707-X. CS1 maint:
Multiple names: authors list (link)
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Look up lion in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikispecies has information related to Lion
Wikisource has the text of the 1921
Collier's Encyclopedia article
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lion.
Species portrait Lion; IUCN/SSC
Cat Specialist Group
Animal Diversity Web –
Panthera leo (lion)". U Mich.
"Lion". African Wildlife Foundation.
Battle at Kruger: Video of a pack of lions fighting against a
crocodile and buffaloes over a kill.
Felis leo". Biodiversity Heritage Library (bibliography).
Panthera leo". Biodiversity Heritage Library (bibliography).
"The state of Lions". National Geographic (bibliography).
"Lion" (news, and video clips from BBC programmes past and present).
Lion Conservation Fund". Example of a fund and its projects
about the research and conservation of the lion.
"Lions: africa's magnificent predators". Description article
African palm civet
African palm civet (N. binotata)
Marsh mongoose (A. paludinosus)
Bushy-tailed mongoose (B. crassicauda)
Jackson's mongoose (B. jacksoni)
Black-footed mongoose (B. nigripes)
Alexander's kusimanse (C. alexandri)
Angolan kusimanse (C. ansorgei)
Common kusimanse (C. obscurus)
Flat-headed kusimanse (C. platycephalus)
Yellow mongoose (C. penicillata)
Pousargues's mongoose (D. dybowskii)
Angolan slender mongoose
Angolan slender mongoose (G. flavescens)
Black mongoose (G. nigrata)
Somalian slender mongoose
Somalian slender mongoose (G. ochracea)
Cape gray mongoose
Cape gray mongoose (G. pulverulenta)
Slender mongoose (G. sanguinea)
Ethiopian dwarf mongoose
Ethiopian dwarf mongoose (H. hirtula)
Common dwarf mongoose
Common dwarf mongoose (H. parvula)
Short-tailed mongoose (H. brachyurus)
Indian gray mongoose
Indian gray mongoose (H. edwardsii)
Indian brown mongoose
Indian brown mongoose (H. fuscus)
Egyptian mongoose (H. ichneumon)
Small Asian mongoose
Small Asian mongoose (H. javanicus)
Long-nosed mongoose (H. naso)
Collared mongoose (H. semitorquatus)
Ruddy mongoose (H. smithii)
Crab-eating mongoose (H. urva)
Stripe-necked mongoose (H. vitticollis)
White-tailed mongoose (I. albicauda)
Liberian mongoose (L. kuhni)
Gambian mongoose (M. gambianus)
Banded mongoose (M. mungo)
Selous' mongoose (P. selousi)
Meller's mongoose (R. melleri)
Meerkat (S. suricatta)
Spotted hyena (C. crocuta)
Brown hyena (H. brunnea)
Striped hyena (H. hyaena)
Aardwolf (P. cristatus)
Large family listed below
Large family listed below
Small family listed below
Cheetah (A. jubatus)
Caracal (C. caracal)
African golden cat
African golden cat (C. aurata)
Bay cat (C. badia)
Asian golden cat
Asian golden cat (C. temminckii)
European wildcat (F. silvestris)
African wildcat (F. lybica)
Jungle cat (F. chaus)
Black-footed cat (F. nigripes)
Sand cat (F. margarita)
Chinese mountain cat
Chinese mountain cat (F. bieti)
Domestic cat (F. catus)
Ocelot (L. pardalis)
Margay (L. wiedii)
Pampas cat (L. colocola)
Geoffroy's cat (L. geoffroyi)
Kodkod (L. guigna)
Andean mountain cat
Andean mountain cat (L. jacobita)
Oncilla (L. tigrinus)
Southern tigrina (L. guttulus)
Serval (L. serval)
Canadian lynx (L. canadensis)
Eurasian lynx (L. lynx)
Iberian lynx (L. pardinus)
Bobcat (L. rufus)
Pallas's cat (O. manul)
Marbled cat (P. marmorata)
Fishing cat (P. viverrinus)
Leopard cat (P. bengalensis)
Sundaland leopard cat (P. javanensis)
Flat-headed cat (P. planiceps)
Rusty-spotted cat (P. rubiginosus)
Cougar (P. concolor)
Jaguarundi (H. yagouaroundi)
Lion (P. leo)
Jaguar (P. onca)
Leopard (P. pardus)
Tiger (P. tigris)
Snow leopard (P. uncia)
Clouded leopard (N. nebulosa)
Sunda clouded leopard
Sunda clouded leopard (N. diardi)
Viverridae (includes Civets)
Binturong (A. binturong)
Small-toothed palm civet
Small-toothed palm civet (A. trivirgata)
Sulawesi palm civet
Sulawesi palm civet (M. musschenbroekii)
Masked palm civet
Masked palm civet (P. larvata)
Golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus)
Asian palm civet
Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)
Jerdon's palm civet (P. jerdoni)
Golden palm civet
Golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)
Owston's palm civet
Owston's palm civet (C. owstoni)
Otter civet (C. bennettii)
Hose's palm civet
Hose's palm civet (D. hosei)
Banded palm civet
Banded palm civet (H. derbyanus)
Banded linsang (P. linsang)
Spotted linsang (P. pardicolor)
African civet (C. civetta)
Abyssinian genet (G. abyssinica)
Angolan genet (G. angolensis)
Bourlon's genet (G. bourloni)
Crested servaline genet
Crested servaline genet (G. cristata)
Common genet (G. genetta)
Johnston's genet (G. johnstoni)
Rusty-spotted genet (G. maculata)
Pardine genet (G. pardina)
Aquatic genet (G. piscivora)
King genet (G. poensis)
Servaline genet (G. servalina)
Haussa genet (G. thierryi)
Cape genet (G. tigrina)
Giant forest genet
Giant forest genet (G. victoriae)
African linsang (P. richardsonii)
Leighton's linsang (P. leightoni)
Malabar large-spotted civet
Malabar large-spotted civet (V. civettina)
Large-spotted civet (V. megaspila)
Malayan civet (V. tangalunga)
Large Indian civet
Large Indian civet (V. zibetha)
Small Indian civet
Small Indian civet (V. indica)
Fossa (C. ferox)
Eastern falanouc (E. goudotii)
Western falanouc (E. major)
Malagasy civet (F. fossana)
Ring-tailed mongoose (G. elegans)
Broad-striped Malagasy mongoose
Broad-striped Malagasy mongoose (G. fasciata)
Grandidier's mongoose (G. grandidieri)
Narrow-striped mongoose (M. decemlineata)
Brown-tailed mongoose (S. concolor)
Durrell's vontsira (S. durrelli)
Caniformia (cont. below)
Giant panda (A. melanoleuca)
Sun bear (H. malayanus)
Sloth bear (M. ursinus)
Spectacled bear (T. ornatus)
American black bear
American black bear (U. americanus)
Brown bear (U. arctos)
Polar bear (U. maritimus)
Asian black bear
Asian black bear (U. thibetanus)
Molina's hog-nosed skunk
Molina's hog-nosed skunk (C. chinga)
Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk
Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk (C. humboldtii)
American hog-nosed skunk
American hog-nosed skunk (C. leuconotus)
Striped hog-nosed skunk
Striped hog-nosed skunk (C. semistriatus)
Hooded skunk (M. macroura)
Striped skunk (M. mephitis)
Sunda stink badger
Sunda stink badger (M. javanensis)
Palawan stink badger
Palawan stink badger (M. marchei)
Southern spotted skunk
Southern spotted skunk (S. angustifrons)
Western spotted skunk
Western spotted skunk (S. gracilis)
Eastern spotted skunk
Eastern spotted skunk (S. putorius)
Pygmy spotted skunk
Pygmy spotted skunk (S. pygmaea)
Eastern lowland olingo
Eastern lowland olingo (B. alleni)
Northern olingo (B. gabbii)
Western lowland olingo
Western lowland olingo (B. medius)
Olinguito (B. neblina)
Ring-tailed cat (B. astutus)
Cacomistle (B. sumichrasti)
White-nosed coati (N. narica)
South American coati
South American coati (N. nasua)
Western mountain coati (N. olivacea)
Eastern mountain coati (N. meridensis)
Kinkajou (P. flavus)
Crab-eating raccoon (P. cancrivorus)
Raccoon (P. lotor)
Cozumel raccoon (P. pygmaeus)
Red panda (A. fulgens)
Caniformia (cont. above)
(includes fur seals
and sea lions)
South American fur seal
South American fur seal (A. australis)
Australasian fur seal (A. forsteri)
Galápagos fur seal
Galápagos fur seal (A. galapagoensis)
Antarctic fur seal
Antarctic fur seal (A. gazella)
Juan Fernández fur seal
Juan Fernández fur seal (A. philippii)
Brown fur seal
Brown fur seal (A. pusillus)
Guadalupe fur seal
Guadalupe fur seal (A. townsendi)
Subantarctic fur seal
Subantarctic fur seal (A. tropicalis)
Northern fur seal
Northern fur seal (C. ursinus)
Steller sea lion
Steller sea lion (E. jubatus)
Australian sea lion
Australian sea lion (N. cinerea)
South American sea lion
South American sea lion (O. flavescens)
New Zealand sea lion
New Zealand sea lion (P. hookeri)
California sea lion
California sea lion (Z. californianus)
Galápagos sea lion
Galápagos sea lion (Z. wollebaeki)
Walrus (O. rosmarus)
Hooded seal (C. cristata)
Bearded seal (E. barbatus)
Gray seal (H. grypus)
Ribbon seal (H. fasciata)
Leopard seal (H. leptonyx)
Weddell seal (L. weddellii)
Crabeater seal (L. carcinophagus)
Northern elephant seal
Northern elephant seal (M. angustirostris)
Southern elephant seal
Southern elephant seal (M. leonina)
Mediterranean monk seal
Mediterranean monk seal (M. monachus)
Hawaiian monk seal
Hawaiian monk seal (M. schauinslandi)
Ross seal (O. rossi)
Harp seal (P. groenlandicus)
Spotted seal (P. largha)
Harbor seal (P. vitulina)
Caspian seal (P. caspica)
Ringed seal (P. hispida)
Baikal seal (P. sibirica)
Large family listed below
Large family listed below
Canidae (includes dogs)
Short-eared dog (A. microtis)
Side-striped jackal (C. adustus)
African golden wolf
African golden wolf (C. anthus)
Golden jackal (C. aureus)
Coyote (C. latrans)
Gray wolf (C. lupus)
Black-backed jackal (C. mesomelas)
Red wolf (C. rufus)
Ethiopian wolf (C. simensis)
Crab-eating fox (C. thous)
Maned wolf (C. brachyurus)
Dhole (C. alpinus)
Culpeo (L. culpaeus)
Darwin's fox (L. fulvipes)
South American gray fox
South American gray fox (L. griseus)
Pampas fox (L. gymnocercus)
Sechuran fox (L. sechurae)
Hoary fox (L. vetulus)
African wild dog
African wild dog (L. pictus)
Raccoon dog (N. procyonoides)
Bat-eared fox (O. megalotis)
Bush dog (S. venaticus)
Gray fox (U. cinereoargenteus)
Island fox (U. littoralis)
Bengal fox (V. bengalensis)
Blanford's fox (V. cana)
Cape fox (V. chama)
Corsac fox (V. corsac)
Tibetan sand fox
Tibetan sand fox (V. ferrilata)
Arctic fox (V. lagopus)
Kit fox (V. macrotis)
Pale fox (V. pallida)
Rüppell's fox (V. rueppelli)
Swift fox (V. velox)
Red fox (V. vulpes)
Fennec fox (V. zerda)
African clawless otter
African clawless otter (A. capensis)
Oriental small-clawed otter
Oriental small-clawed otter (A. cinerea)
Sea otter (E. lutris)
Spotted-necked otter (H. maculicollis)
North American river otter
North American river otter (L. canadensis)
Marine otter (L. felina)
Neotropical otter (L. longicaudis)
Southern river otter
Southern river otter (L. provocax)
Eurasian otter (L. lutra)
Hairy-nosed otter (L. sumatrana)
Smooth-coated otter (L. perspicillata)
Giant otter (P. brasiliensis)
Hog badger (A. collaris)
Tayra (E. barbara)
Lesser grison (G. cuja)
Greater grison (G. vittata)
Wolverine (G. gulo)
Saharan striped polecat
Saharan striped polecat (I. libyca)
Striped polecat (I. striatus)
Patagonian weasel (L. patagonicus)
American marten (M. americana)
Yellow-throated marten (M. flavigula)
Beech marten (M. foina)
Nilgiri marten (M. gwatkinsii)
European pine marten
European pine marten (M. martes)
Japanese marten (M. melampus)
Sable (M. zibellina)
Fisher (P. pennanti)
Japanese badger (M. anakuma)
Asian badger (M. leucurus)
European badger (M. meles)
Honey badger (M. capensis)
Bornean ferret-badger (M. everetti)
Chinese ferret-badger (M. moschata)
Javan ferret-badger (M. orientalis)
Burmese ferret-badger (M. personata)
(Weasels and Ferrets)
Amazon weasel (M. africana)
Mountain weasel (M. altaica)
Stoat (M. erminea)
Steppe polecat (M. eversmannii)
Colombian weasel (M. felipei)
Long-tailed weasel (M. frenata)
Japanese weasel (M. itatsi)
Yellow-bellied weasel (M. kathiah)
European mink (M. lutreola)
Indonesian mountain weasel
Indonesian mountain weasel (M. lutreolina)
Black-footed ferret (M. nigripes)
Least weasel (M. nivalis)
Malayan weasel (M. nudipes)
European polecat (M. putorius)
Siberian weasel (M. sibirica)
Back-striped weasel (M. strigidorsa)
Egyptian weasel (M. subpalmata)
American mink (N. vison)
African striped weasel
African striped weasel (P. albinucha)
American badger (T. taxus)
Marbled polecat (V. peregusna)
BNF: cb11932251d (d