Lions are amazing animals. Their roar can make your insides vibrate and their stare can inspire awe (and a little uneasiness) when you realize where on the food chain you reside.
We love our lions here at Lee Richardson Zoo and will celebrate World Lion Day from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10. Let’s take a few minutes and learn a bit more about the amazing lion, including a bit more about the individual lions here at Lee Richardson Zoo.
Lions have been celebrated throughout history for their courage and strength. They once roamed most of Africa and parts of Asia and Europe. Today they are found only in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, except for one very small population of Asian lions that survives in India's Gir Forest.
Lions are the only cats that live in groups, which are called prides. Lion prides are family units that may include up to three males, a dozen or so females and their young. All of a pride's lionesses are related, and female cubs typically stay with the group as they age. Young males eventually leave and establish their own prides by taking over a group headed by another male.
Only male lions boast manes, the impressive fringe of long hair that encircles their heads. Males defend the pride's territory, which may include some 100 square miles of grasslands, scrub or open woodlands. These intimidating animals mark the area with urine, roar menacingly to warn intruders and chase off animals that encroach on their turf.
Female lions are the pride's primary hunters. They often work together to prey upon antelopes, zebras, wildebeest and other large animals of the open grasslands. Many of these animals are faster than lions, so teamwork pays off.
After the hunt, the group effort often degenerates to squabbling over sharing the kill, with cubs at the bottom of the pecking order. Young lions do not help hunt until they are about a year old. Lions will hunt alone if the opportunity presents itself, and they also steal kills from hyenas or wild dogs.
So, on Aug. 10 come by Lee Richardson Zoo for World Lion Day. Meet our amazing lions: the two males Bantu and Asani, two females Amali and daughter Lulu and our oldest male Razi. There will be fun and games, a keeper chat and lion enrichment. You can learn what Lee Richardson Zoo does to provide the best quality of life for our resident lions. You will also be able to learn how we help lions in the wild, and what you can do to help protect lions too.
To find out more about World Lion Day or Lee Richardson Zoo, visit www.leericharsonzoo.org or find us on Facebook by searching Lee Richardson Zoo.
Max Lakes is the curator of conservation education and deputy director at Lee Richardson Zoo.