Melbourne Zoo

Lion

Lions are the kings of Melbourne Zoo.

Lions once ranged throughout northern Africa, south-west Asia, Europe and India. Their range is now reduced to sub Saharan Africa, with an isolated sub species in the Gir Forest of India. Numbers are decreasing, as they are killed by farmers to protect livestock and as the number of potential prey dwindles. It is not known how many lions remain in the wild in Africa: recent estimates have ranged from around 16,500 to 30,000 animals remaining. Lions are now classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’). 

Meeting the lions at Melbourne Zoo is a chance to come face-to-face with these majestic animals and help secure the survival of threatened species. A visit to Melbourne Zoo helps to raise much needed funds, contributing to the care and upkeep of animals like the lion. Visiting the zoo also supports Zoos Victoria in Fighting Extinction, both here and abroad. 

An adult male lion stands just over a metre tall at the shoulder, is over 3 metres long including tail, and averages about 220kg in weight. Females are considerably smaller. Cubs are spotted, and sometimes a few spots remain into adulthood on the legs and belly. Adult male lions are noted for their brown mane, which becomes darker and fuller as the animal matures and becomes stronger. The mane is apparently a sign of his strength and virility, as weaker males do not have such luxuriant manes.

Lions are the only cats to live in a large family group, called a pride. A pride can be as large as 30–40 members and comprises mostly related females, their cubs and a small number of resident males. Dominating the pride is either a single male, or a coalition of males. Competition among males to take over a pride is intense, and on average the duration of a lion’s rule is 2–3 years.

Lions are carnivorous and hunt a variety of prey including zebra, wildebeest, impala, buffalo and warthog. The pride hunts as a team, using ambush methods. It is more generally the females who hunt to feed the pride.

News
Lion -Lion Gorge Opening

Cats, dogs and crocs… Oh my!

Visitors to Melbourne Zoo this summer will experience an amazing new development: Lion Gorge, built on the footprint of the historic 1960s Lion Park and with incredible viewing of several predator species including African Lions, African Wild Dogs and the world’s most endangered crocodilian, the

18 December 2014
Tree move

Moving Day at Melbourne Zoo

A major move has taken place at Melbourne Zoo today, with a 60 year-old Moreton Bay Fig transplanted to become the centre-piece of the Zoo’s  soon-to-be-constructed Predator’s Precinct.

12 May 2014
Encounters
Lions at MZ

Lion Behind the Scenes

Get up close to Melbourne Zoo’s bachelor group of lions. Find out about the shifting dynamics of dominance within a group of male lions and see the sibling rivalry that a lunchtime meal can produce.

Did you know?
  • Males eat first even though they generally do not participate in the hunt. Females eat next, followed by the cubs
  • Only one in five lion cubs survives its first year. When food is scarce, feeding is in order of age and size, and the youngest and weakest do not survive
  • A lion’s roar can be heard up to 8km away! Up close, the grass flattens in the impact of a roar
  • A subspecies of lion, the Asiatic Lion, was once found all through India, the Middle East and Southern Asia, but now fewer than 450 survive in the Gir Forest National Park in western India