Interesting Facts about Lions for Kids

Lions are also known as the King of the Jungle. They are native to Africa and India but can also be seen at zoos across the country. Lions are one of the most distinctive animals in the world with their large manes and loud roar. Learn more about these ferocious animals with these Lion Facts for Kids! 

Lion laying on the ground
Lion

Click here for more animal facts

What is a Lion?

The lion is known as the “King of Beasts” or “King of the Jungle.”  There are also phrases such as “brave as a lion” or “strong as a lion.” Lions` have been the symbol of strength and bravery for thousands of years.

The scientific name for a lion is panthera leo.  They are part of the big cats family. Other big cat species include tigers, cheetahs, cougars, jaguars, leopards, and snow leopards.

Lions are the second-largest cat species in the entire world (tigers are number one).

There are one species of lion and two sub-species African Lion P and Asiatic Lion. one. African lions are native to African and Asiatic lions are a small population native to India. African lions are bigger than Asiatic lions.

Lions are predatory carnivores.  This means that they hunt and kill animals to survive. Some of the animals they eat include zebras, giraffes, rhinos, Hippos, Deer, and other herd animals.

A male is called a lion.  A female is called a lioness and a baby is called a cub.

Where Do Lions Live?

Lion’s are known as the king of the jungle, but they really don’t live in jungles.

A lion’s habitat is in the savanna. A savanna is a flat grassy area with a small number of trees. Their habitats also include the open woodlands and grasslands when plenty of water can be found. African lions used to be found all over Africa, today. they are mostly found in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Around 4,000 lions live in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania Serengeti National Park is a large wildlife preserve that is home to thousands of species, including lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebra, giraffe, hippos, hyenas, white rhino, black rhinos, elephants, and many species of birds.

A small population of lions also lives in the Gir Forest National Park in Western India.

What Do Lions Look Like?

Lions are really large.  A full-grown male lion can weigh up to 560 pounds.  A female is smaller weighing in at 300-350 pounds.

Male lions on average are 10 feet long including their tail and stand about 4ft tall.  Females are slightly smaller at 9 feet long.

Lions have strong powerful legs that help them run up to 36 mph.  Lions can even make it up to 50 mph for short distances.

One of the easiest ways to tell female and male lions apart is from their mane.  Males have manes and females do not. 

A mane is the long, thick hair around the lion’s head.  A lion’s mane helps protect his head during fights.  Large manes can intimidate other lions. 

A male lion’s mane will start to grow at 18 months and will continue to grow as the lion grows.

Manes will often darken in color as the lion gets older.

Manes will help to protect the lion’s neck when they are in fights.

Lion’s coat is a golden brown color.  Their manes can be a variety of colors including brown, reddish-brown, light brown, or even blonde or black.

Social Animals 

Lions are social animals.  As cubs, they will wrestle and play.  As adults lions continue to be social.

Lions communicate in many different ways. Members of a pride will greet each other by rubbing their heads together.

Lions will mark their territory with their scent and urine.  They do this so other lions outside their pride know that this area is taken.

Male lions will also use their manes to communicate.  A lion’s mane is large, this is to stay “I’m strong, I’m tough.”  to make sure everyone else around them knows this, a lion will sometimes strut back and forth holding its head up high.

A lion will also communicate with its roar.

A Lion’s Roar

Lions have the loudest roar of any cat in the entire world. Their roar is so loud that it can be heard up to 5 miles away! Lions roar for many different reasons.

They roar to declare a territory or show strength and to warn animals to stay away. Sometimes they will roar to call other lions.  Sometimes a group of lions will roar together,

Pride

Unlike other cats, lions are social animals.  Lions live in groups called prides.  A pride consists of about 15-25 lions, but they sometimes have up to 40 lions.  Usually 1-2 adult male lions, 12-15 lionesses, and cubs. The more males a pride has the better the chance for survival. The males’ main duty is to protect the pride and their territory. The lionesses are usually the ones that hunt and provide food for the pride.

When a male cub grows up, he will leave the pride, usually with his brothers.  Adult male lions will roam the land for a while, then find a territory or pride to claim as their own. When female cubs grow up, they stay in the pride.

Hunters

Both male and female lions will hunt.  In the pride, the lioness will hunt and the male lion’s job is to protect the pride.  Lions are predators and must hunt other animals to survive.

Lionesses will often hunt in groups.  This is so they have a better chance of catching fast prey such as zebra.

A Lion will hunt at night.  Lions have an excellent sense of sight, smell, and hearing.  They use these senses to track down their prey.

Lions will sneak up on their prey then attack.  They will catch prey by grabbing them and pulling them down with their razor-sharp teeth.

Lion’s teeth were made for tearing into the skin of their prey and not so much for chewing.  A lion will often swallow big chunks of meat.  They have thick, coarse tongues that help take the hair off the meat.

If there is a lot of food all members of the pride will eat together.  Often times there isn’t enough food when food is scarce the adult male lions will eat first, then the females, and lastly the cubs.  Some cubs have died from starving to death.

A lion will eat as much and he/she can in one meal.  Sometimes eating up to 75 pounds at once. This is because lions do not eat every day.  It may be several days before he/she will eat again.

Sleepy Lion

Lions sleep a lot.  They can rest for up to 20 hours a day.  Because lions live in such a hot climate they must try not to overheat.  As humans, we sweat to cool off our bodies. Lions do not sweat like humans, this is why they spend so much of their day resting.  Running around, playing, jumping can cause a lion’s body to overheat, which is not good for a lion.

A lion will find a nice play to rest under a tree, in the shadow of another lion, behind a rock, or anywhere they can find shade.  A lion will often lay on its sides to cool off as its heat escapes its body well by the belly.

This is one of the reasons that lions hunt at night.  They will hunt at night when the temperatures drop and the hot sun goes in.

Cubs

Lion Cub
Lion Cub

When a mother lioness is ready to have her cubs, she will leave the pride to find a safe place to give birth and care for her cubs for a couple of weeks of their life. A mother lioness will give birth to a litter of 1-4 lion cubs every two years.

When a lion cub is born it is blind, can barely crawl, and have light spots on their fur.  A new mother will only leave her cubs to get them food.  When she leaves her cub, she makes sure that she leaves them hidden. Cubs can be prey for hyenas, jackals, snakes, and leopards.

After about 12 weeks, lion cubs are now able to get around.  The mother lioness will lead her cubs back to her pride. This is risky for the lioness because If the male members of the pride feel that they don’t belong, they will kill them. If the members of the pride accept them, they will greet the new cubs.

Lion and cub
Lion and cub

Cubs will continue to follow their mother and learn new things.  They will learn hunting skills such as how to sneak up on and capture prey.

Cubs will also play with other cubs in the pride. They will play-fight and pounce on one another.  Cubs have fun playing around.

When cubs are about one year old they lose their baby teeth.  Their adult sharp teeth will grow in their place.  When their adult teeth come in, cubs will start to go out hunting with their mothers.

After cubs have had practice hunting and are strong enough to hunt alone, their mothers will stop bringing them food.  From this point on, cubs will have to go out and hunt on their own.

Lion Facts for Kids

When a lion walks, its heels do not touch the ground.

We know that cats don’t like water, is this true for lions? Unlike other cats, lions actually like water and are great swimmers.

A lion has a long jump! In a single leap that can travel as far as 35 ft.

We all know Simba from Disney’s Lion King. In Swahili (a language spoken in Africa), Simba means lion.

Lions live 12-15 years in the wild and 20-25 years in captivity. When animals are living in captivity it means they are living in a zoo, farm, or nature preserve.

African lions are considered vulnerable on the endangered species list.

Click here to download the single lion coloring page. Click here to download multiple Lion Coloring Page

lion coloring page 1
lion coloring page

References

Lions by Ann o. Squire

Lions by Jennifer Zeiger

Lions by Tammy Gagne

Face to Face with Lions by Beverly and Dereck Joubert

Serengeti Discovery Chanel