Zoo zone

March 01, 2000

The king of beasts

Male lions weigh up to 600 pounds and can measure nine feet from head to tail, not including their mane, which makes them look even bigger. A lion's roar, the loudest of any cat, can be heard from five miles away!

A long time ago, lions lived in many places around the world. Today, they can only be found in parts of Africa. Their habitats (places where the lions live) are disappearing--and their food, too.

What's for dinner? Lions hunt zebras, wildebeest, giraffe, and other grassland dwellers.

Wild facts

Lions are the only cats that live in groups. A family group of lions is called a pride. Male lions defend the pride against enemies. Female lions do most of the hunting.

Lions can reach speeds of up to 36 miles per hour, but some of their prey can move as fast as a car on a highway--50 miles per hour--so lions must quietly sneak up and surprise their dinner!

True or False?

Lions are related to house cats.

True! Both are members of the animal family felidae.

Lions have spots.

True! Lion cubs are born with spots to help them hide in the grass while their mother hunts. The spots fade as they get older.

Learn more!

Visit the lions at The Baltimore Zoo. Read "Safari," by Robert Bateman and Rick Archbold, Little, Brown & Company, 1999.


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