February 20th, 2010


Daily Zoo Animal #29: African Lion

African Lion Panthera leo

What can I say about lions that isn't familiar to everyone? The African lion is one of the most recognizable animals in the world, having acquired the status of a living symbol (from heraldry to commercial logos) in antiquity. Their persistent epithet "king of the jungle" ignores the fact that the vast majority of living lions are grassland animals. A population of fewer than 400 lions lives in the Gir forest in India, and are protected, despite the fact that they occasionally cause human fatalities. Lions used to range from Africa, across Asia, to the Americas but vanished from most of their range by the last ice age. There were still lions in Europe at the time of the Roman Empire but were wiped out by 100 AD. It is well known that they are social animals--a rare characteristic among cats--and that females do most of the hunting.
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