Big cat sanctuary to hold behind the scenes tour Sunday
ROCKWELL, N.C. —
The Lion (Panthera leo) is a mammal of the family Felidae. The male lion, easily recognized by his mane, may weigh up to 250 kg (550 lb). Females are much smaller, weighing up to 180 kg (400 lb). In the wild lions live for around 10–14 years, whilst in captivity they can live over 20. Lions are carnivores who live in family groups, called prides, consisting of related females, their cubs of both sexes, and an unrelated male who mates with the adult females. The females do the hunting for the pride while the males are largely occupied with maintaining the borders of their territory. Males are expelled from the pride when they reach maturity. When or if a male takes over a pride and ousts the previous lead male, the conqueror may kill any cubs left in the pride that are not his.
Lions in the wild Lions eat mammals that are smaller than their size. They are predators with a stealthy approach in order to capture food. Accordingly, prey animals will normally keep calm if they spot a lion at a safe distance as the lion will probably not have the stamina for a sustained chase. They will eat almost any kind of animal from insects to elephants. Some of their natural enemies are male lions who are seeking territory. Lions are found throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. They are mainly found in woodland type areas but can survive in semi desert or bush areas. Baby or young lions are called cubs. Females give birth to 1-5 youngsters, after a gestation period of three months. The cubs can suckle for as long as 18 months but are normally weaned by 8 weeks. There is a high mortality rate amongst cubs. Attacks on humans While a hungry lion will probably attack a human that passes near, some (usually male) lions seem to seek out human prey. Some of the more publicized cases include the Tsavo Man-Eaters and the Mfuwe Man-Eater. In both cases the hunters who slew the lions wrote books about their exploits. In folklore, man-eating lions are sometimes considered demons. The Mfuwe and Tsavo incidents did bear some similarities. The lions in both the incidents were all larger than normal, lacked manes and seemed to suffer from tooth decay. Some have speculated that they might belong to an unclassified species of lion, or they were sick and could not have easily caught prey. Interesting facts * The territory is owned by the lioness with the territorial males only protecting the area for approximately three years * The females in the pride are all related - mothers, aunts, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters, cousins and sisters * The mane on the males is used to increase his size and is for protection against bites and blows delivered during fights * The front paws are larger than the back paws * Lions can spend as much time as 20 hours per day sleeping * Lions will hunt in the day or in the night and are more active on overcast, cool days * Lions will readily scavenge and often do so * Males will feed at a kill first or chase off the other lions if they get there after the others have started feeding * They have excellent night vision * Lions will always drink after eating.
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