Published on Jan 29, 2020

Lion Art Background Images

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Lions have strong, compact bodies and powerful forelegs, teeth and jaws for pulling down and killing prey. Their coats are yellow-gold, and adult males have shaggy manes that range in color from blond to reddish-brown to black. The length and color of a lion’s mane is likely determined by age, genetics and hormones. Young lions have light spotting on their coats that disappears as they grow.

Without their coats, lion and tiger bodies are so similar that only experts can tell them apart.

Lions stand between 3.5 and 4 feet (1 and 1.2 meters) tall at the shoulder. Males grow to lengths of 10 feet (3 meters) and have a 2 to 3 foot (60 to 91 centimeter) tail. They weigh from 330 to 550 pounds (150 to 250 kilograms). Slightly smaller, females grow to lengths of 9 feet (2.7 meters) and weigh between 265 and 395 pounds.

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Lions inhabit a wide range of habitats, from open plains to thick brush and dry thorn forest. Except for a small population of the Indian lion subspecies that remains in the Gir Forest of northwest India, lions now live only in Africa, from the Sahara’s southern fringe to northern South Africa. They are absent from equatorial areas dominated by moist tropical forest.

Lions primarily eat large animals that weigh from 100 to 1,000 pounds (45 to 453 kilograms), such as zebra and wildebeest. In times of shortage, they also catch and eat a variety of smaller animals, from rodents to reptiles. Lions also steal kills from hyenas, leopards and other predators. At times, they may lose their own catches to hyena groups. Lions may also feed on domestic livestock, especially in areas near villages.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s lions eat ground beef, which is commercially produced to meet the nutritional needs of carnivores. Twice a week, they receive knucklebones or beef femurs, and once a week they receive rabbits, which exercise the cats’ teeth and jaws.

Lions are the world’s most social felines. They live in groups of related females, called prides, which may comprise several to as many as 40 individuals, including adults, sub-adults (between the ages of 2 and 4) and cubs, plus one or more resident males. Abundance of prey availability plays a significant role in the size of a lion pride. Pride mates associate in sub-groups within the pride.

Lions in zoos may live into their late teens or early 20s. In the wild, a lioness may live up to 16 years, but males rarely live past the age of 12.

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