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Melbourne Zoo

Lion

Lions are top-order predators, but conservation experts have recently classified the species as being 'Vulnerable' in the wild.  They estimate that only 16,000 to 30,000 are surviving in sub-Saharan Africa and in a small, isolated population in the Gir Forest in India.

Lion habitat once also included northern Africa, south-west Asia, and Europe.

Lion populations are continuing to decrease, as they are killed by farmers to protect livestock and as the supply of potential prey dwindles due to human impact on wildlife habitat.

The new classification that lions are vulnerable to extinction has been determined by researchers working with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’)

An adult male lion stands just over a metre tall at the shoulder, is more than three metres long including his 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 dark mane, which becomes darker and fuller as the animal matures and becomes stronger. The mane apparently indicates 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, usually brothers. Competition among males to take over a pride is intense, and on average the duration of a lion’s rule is two to three years.

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

See them today in Lion Gorge at Melbourne Zoo.

Kashka

Born 2015

Kashka is a pretty laid back individual, happy to do things at his own pace. He loves his food and is very persistent in trying to convince mum to ‘share’ her portion. His name is Nigerian in origin and means friendly.

Kito

Born 2015

Kito is the problem-solver of the three boys and acutely aware of when there may be an opportunity for food – the first to rush up in the hopes that it’s a first come, first served situation. 

Kubwa

Born 20th October 2015

One of three males born to Lioness Nilo, Kubwa is quite independent and quick to remember things. He can be a little cautious in new situations (a trait inherited from Nilo) but will stand his ground, especially when it comes to food. His name is Swahili for ‘large’ – matching his big personality!

Lion boys explore new home video

Welcome to Werribee Lions

Melbourne Zoo is delighted to welcome the three young lions from Werribee Open Range Zoo into Melbourne Zoo’s Lion Gorge.

31 May 2017
Lions preparing to move Keepers at Werribee Open Range Zoo YouTube Video

Lions preparing for move to Melbourne Zoo

Keepers at Werribee Open Range Zoo are preparing three adolescent male lions for their upcoming move to Melbourne Zoo.

24 May 2017
  • 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