(Panthera leo)




Facts about this animal

The Lion is an unmistakable, large and powerfully built cat with a uniform coat and a black tuft at the end of the tail and a mane (males). The head-body length is 140-250 cm with a shoulder height of 80-110 cm. The weight is 150-250 kg in males and 120-185 kg in females. The lioness is notably smaller and lighter than the male and maneless. Lions have a broad face with a relatively long muzzle.


The face of the male is framed by a yellow, brown, or almost black mane. The ears are short, rounded and with black marks on the basal part on the backside. The fore limbs are more powerfully built than the hind limbs. The coat is short and uniform. The colour is varying from ochraceous silvery-grey to dark ochre-brown. The young are marked with ochraceous rosette-like spots mainly on the belly and legs. The coat is woolly and they are maneless.

Did you know?
that, if a young male lion fights off an older lion and takes over his pride, he will immediately kill all the cubs in the pride? This forces the lionesses to go back into season and they soon mate with him and have his cubs.


Name (Scientific) Panthera leo
Name (English) Lion
Name (French) Lion
Name (German) Löwe
Name (Spanish) León
CITES Status Panthera leo - all African populations: Appendix II. Panthera leo persica: Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Valerie Abbott



Range Africa, India (Gir forest)
Habitat Savannas and forests
Wild population African lion:30,000 to 100,000 (1996) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population Panthera leo:1138 reported to ISIS (2005) Panthera leo persica: 106 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

Transport crates should be sufficiently large to meet legal requirements, sufficiently strong to prevent escape or damage to the crate and animal, and have an adequate number of handles. Basic design should allow free flow of air through multiple sides of the container. A double door design on each end of the crate should be used. The "inner" door on each end should have bars to contain the animal, and the "outer" door should consist of a thin panel of expanded metal that provides safety for the handlers. The doors on each end of the crate should travel vertically to facilitate animal transfer and contain a secure locking system. The crate should drain well, and absorbent bedding should be used to prevent the animal from being exposed to or lying in urine or excreta. The crate should be of a size that allows easy lifting, transport and movement through doorways.


The shipment should be organised in a way to minimise stress. The animal should have access to its transport crate for 2 weeks before shipment, preferably being fed within it. If an extended trip is anticipated, water and eventually food should be provided while the animal is in transit. Ideally one of the animal's keepers should accompany it during transport, providing for its care and helping it adjust to the new environment.


For air transport, Container Note 72 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
THomas Jermann

Why do zoos keep this animal

The lion, King of the animals, is one of the most charismatic species kept by zoos. Apart from serving as a model for art classes and being of great educational value for biology teachers, it is a top ambassador species for the ecosystems it inhabits, and many of which have become threatened.


The Asian lion, surviving only in a small part of India, is critically endangered. Therefore an International Studbook was set up in 1971 under the WAZA umbrella and there are regional conservation breeding programmes operated by AZA and EAZA. AZA and ARAZPA have also programmes for maintaining self-sustained African lion populations in their zoos.