Lion
Genus: Panthera
Species: leo

The lion is the powerhouse of the savanna, weighing in at 265-420 pounds and up to 10 feet long. The lion is a powerful predator. Imagine a powerful looking beast that looks like your average house cat. But its bigger, faster, and stronger. Lions have dirty beige colored fur and rounded heads. Males have something females don't... manes. Manes are a ruff of long hair around the neck which is brown in the front and black in the back.


Lions live in the savanna of Africa south of the Sahara and a small area in Asia. Savannas are open spaces with tall beige, or green colored grass, where water is scarce in the summer season. Lions eat gazelles, buffalo, zebras and many other small to medium sized mammals.

Lions are the only cats that live in groups called prides. Each pride is like a community of 4 to 40 individuals. They all help hunt in order to keep every member healthy, and every cub fed. The pride is made up of one dominant male and maybe a few other males, and related females and their cubs. The males protect the pride and the females hunt and take care of the cubs. When the dominant male is killed or driven off by a new male, the previous male's cubs are killed. This makes sure that there is room for the new male's cubs in the pride. Cubs are born a little over a month after mating. They depend on their mother's milk for 3 or 4 months. They nurse not only from their own mother, but any other nursing female. They are off on their own in 2 years.

Lion's coats are perfect camouflage for sneaking up on their prey. They will sneak up to their prey as close as they can as a group. Some in the group will charge at their victim, while the others cut off their escape. But often they don't not get close enough so they have to run them down. Lions can run up to forty miles per hour for short distances. They have sharp hooked claws which they can retract or extend at will. The pads on their feet protect their paws from the rough terrain that they might walk over. They have sharp teeth that are perfect for chomping, and biting and chewing up meat.

The lion can be crucial to other animal's survival. When a lion makes a kill and is done eating, there are usually leftovers, or scraps, which scavengers like vultures and the occasional hyena, come and eat, and thus are helped to survive too.

Lions indeed are very wonderful creatures. They are interesting to see and find out about. But they are endangered from over-hunting and loss of habitat. Efforts have been made to save there creatures but they need all the help they can get. If you see a way that you can help one of these beautiful creatures, please do, so that generations after ours can enjoy them too. If we don't...they will be gone, leaving a huge chunk out of nature's balance as we know it.

by Chase S.  2000.


 

bibliography:

McClung, Robert M. "Lions". The New Book of Knowledge. 1998 ed.

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