African Lion
(click above to see the Bear Creek lions)
Panthera Leo

Eastern and Southern Africa
Life span is 15 to 20 years

Lions live in prides of up to 20 individuals, made up of one or more mature lions and their cubs. They are capable of speeds of up to 40 mph for short distances, and can do a standing jump up to 12 feet high. Lions sleep up to 18 hours a day. The lion is unusual among the cat species in that it lives in organized social groups called prides. The majority in the pride are females and their offspring along with a small resident number of males. It is common for the females within the pride to be closely related and this family bonding is often extended through communal sucklng and caring for the young. The territory of the pride is fixed but can vary in size depending on the availability and distribution of prey. In larger territories, which can be as big as 200 square miles, large prides are often split into smaller social groupings.

Hunting is a shared process - individuals are relatively inefficient at hunting, and cannot sustain high - speed pursuit for long periods of time. Lionesses hunt by ambush, with the majority of the hunting group chasing the prey towards individuals lying in wait. Those lionesses are then able to give chase over short distances before leaping on the selected animal for the kill.Once the prey is taken it is common for the males of the pride to eat first even though they take no part in the hunting process. The females are next to feed, followed by the cubs. It is common, when food is scarce, that the young will starve as a result of being last in the pecking order for food.

Incoming males provide another threat to the young cubs of the pride. When a male lion reaches maturity it leaves its birth pride and goes in search of another pride for which it must fight for the right to join. Older or injured males are ousted by the young incoming males, who then take up residence in the pride. These new males will often kill all of the cubs fathered by other males, ensuring that it's own future offspring will have a greater chance of survival.

A fully developed male lion can grow up to 10 feet in body length and is surpassed in size only by the male Siberian tiger.