The lion (Panthera leo) is a large mammal of the Felidae (cat) family. It originally lived in Africa and Asia.
Lions are mostly found in Africa and in a small reserve in India. They can live in cool areas, very hot areas or in thick forests. In the past, there were wild lions in Europe. Today, many live in zoos around the world. In the past they have lived in Northern India, Pakistan, and Arabia.
The lion is the largest member of the cat family that lives in Africa. It hunts many animals and humans, for example, gnus and antelopes, and eat a lot of meat. Male lions usually weigh 159 to 180 kilograms (350 to 400 pounds), but they can weigh more. It is the only cat with a mane.
Lions live in groups that are called prides. Ten to twenty lions may live in a pride. Each pride has a home area that is called its territory. Lions do not allow other carnivores (meat eating animals) to hunt in their territory. A territory can be as large as 260 square kilometres (100 square miles). Lions sometimes live for over 20 years in captivity.
A lioness is a female lion. The female lions hunt the animals for the prides. At hunting lions are not built for speed like cheetas but are for stealth. They are ready to have young when she is 2-3 years old. Baby lions are called cubs. Cubs are born after 3 1/2 months. Lions do not have a den (home) where they would live for a long time. The lioness conceals the cubs in thick bush, gullies or rocky outcrops. If the hiding place has been seen by other predators, then the lioness will move the cubs to a new hiding place. The cubs will be introduced to the pride at about 6 weeks old. The cubs are very vulnerable when the lioness goes out to hunt and needs to leave the cubs behind. A litter of 2-6, usually 2-3, cubs are born and most of the time only 1-2 cubs survives until introduced to the pride where they have the protection of the whole pride. In zoos lionâ€™s have known to breed with tigers and itâ€™s called a liger or tigon.
There are approximately 30,000 African lions left in the wild and only 350 Asian lions left in the Gir Forest in the state of Gujarat, India.
Lion is in the arms and ice-hockey team of Finland because of itâ€™s strength and bravery.
Lion is also the symbol of bravery in China, and in Great Britain, it is of courage. Take Richard of Lionheart, for example. In famous movies, such as the Wizard of Oz, lion means courage.